UDP Medicare Rule
Last October a constituent brought to my attention that Medicare Part B premiums were included as a source of income towards qualification to the Utility Discount Program (UDP). The UDP, if you’re not familiar with it is City program for lower-income customers and offers about 60% on your Seattle City Light bill and a 50% discount on your Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) bill for eligible customers. The result of the practice of including Medicate Part B premiums as a source of income is that low-income people who should have access to the UDP are being deemed ineligible.
I worked for several months with the heads of both utilities urging them to remove Medicare Part B as an included source of income. I specifically wanted to remove Medicare Part B because it is not income that is ever realized by the customer. Medicare Part B premiums are actually deducted from federal checks (such as Social Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance) that customers receive.
The utilities have agreed to new proposed rules to remove that requirement, and specifically call out Medicare Part B premiums as allowable deductions from income. SPU estimates that this change will add an additional 1,015 households to the UDP.
On May 1st, the Directors’ Rules were made available for public comment, if you are interested in commenting you can find both rules here:
- Seattle Public Utilities (CS-700): on page 5, under C. Allowable Deductions from income the last bullet point states: “Medicare premium expenses in the current standard Medicare part B premium amount (see Medicare.gov) may be deducted from Social Security, SSDI and SSI income.”
- Seattle City Light (III-428): also on page 5, under section 5.6.3 the last bullet point states: “Medicare premium expenses (the current standard Medicare part B premium amount may be deducted from Social Security, SSDI and SSI income. See Medicare.gov for current premium amount.”
The rules are open for comment until May 15th, once the comment period ends, the utilities will evaluate the comments and implement the rules on June 1st.
Trump-Proof Seattle Thursday, May 4th
Just a reminder that the Trump Proof Seattle Coalition is sponsoring a Town Hall event in District 1 tonight. Doors open at 5:30. There will be information tables and organizers present. Program begins at 6pm, in Olympic Hall at South Seattle College. Campus map here: http://www.southseattle.edu/campus-information/campus-map.aspx Childcare available, please see Trump-Proof Seattle for more.
Duwamish River Opportunity Fund to provide funds for community projects
Since 2014 the City, through Duwamish River Opportunity Fund (DROF), has allocated funds to quality-of-life enhancements for the Duwamish River area that can be implemented in partnership with King County, the Port of Seattle, and community stakeholders and is intended to enhance existing programs and support new programs focused on challenges faced by Duwamish River communities.
On May 2nd the DROF announced that they will provide $250,000 for community-initiated projects. The proposals should address topics such as job training, economic development, access to healthy food, affordable housing strategies, environmental development or restoration, or major community development activities that will have long-term, sustainable impacts.
Applicants are encouraged to attend a workshop before applying. These workshops will review the application process and discuss the requirements for a good proposal. The workshops will be held:
- Thursday, May 11 – 5:00 -7:00 p.m. at South Seattle College, Georgetown Campus (6737 Corson Avenue S); Room C110/111.
- Tuesday, May 16 – 5:00 -7:00 p.m. at South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave S); Multi-Purpose Room.
Furthermore, the fund has made two changes this year:
- Awardees can request advance start-up funds up to 10% of approved budget or $5,000, whichever is lesser.
- Projects can incur approved expenses starting from project start date rather than from the contract date.
To view the Request for Proposals and Application, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/programs-and-services/duwamish-river-opportunity-fund. For questions, call 206-256-5947 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply is Monday, June 12 by 5 p.m.
Finally, the City is recruiting community members to serve as grant reviewers:
“Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is recruiting community members to serve as grant reviewers of DROF applications to select those projects that are impactful and improve the quality of life for communities living within the Duwamish River Valley. Grant reviewers should live, work, or receive services in the Duwamish River Valley area and have a clear understanding of community needs and resources. They will be compensated for their time. Visit our webpage to review the Frequently Asked Questions document and the DROF Grant Reviewer Application. The deadline to apply is Thursday, May 25 at 5:00 p.m.”
Sound Transit debuts ST3 timeline
Sound Transit has announced a Draft System Expansion Implementation Plan for ST3 projects, which includes a schedule for light rail to West Seattle.
For West Seattle to Downtown light rail, the schedule shows Project Development through mid-2022, Final Design through mid-2025, and construction from 2025 through 2030. It is scheduled to be the first Seattle project completed in ST3.
The document includes a summary of Sound Transit’s approach toward community engagement on alignment, station locations, permitting, identification of a preferred alternative, real estate purchases, and other items.
A PDF file of the complete Sound Transit schedule is available here.
Good news for NEA funding in federal budget
Congressional leaders recently announced they will vote on a bipartisan federal spending bill that maintains funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The President’s original budget announcement proposed eliminating federal support for the NEA.
The NEA supports numerous local arts groups, both large and small. One such group is the Creative Advantage arts education program in Seattle Public Schools, which has programs in District 1 schools such as Arbor Heights Elementary, Concord International Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, Roxhill Elementary, Sanislo Elementary, West Seattle Elementary, Louise Boren STEM K-8, Denny International Middle School, and Chief Sealth International High School.
No cuts are included in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, also proposed for elimination in the President’s original proposal. The spending bill provides funding through the end of the fiscal year in September.