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Bowie waives late water and sewer fees for shutdown federal employees

rpacella@capgaznews.com

The city of Bowie will waive late fees on water and sewer bills for federal employees who are not paid during the partial federal shutdown, a city spokeswoman said Thursday.

On the same day, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced a suite of assistance for federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay. Alsobrooks held a press conference along with other politicians, private and non-profit partners.

Alsobrooks said she wants Prince Georgians to know that in what she called a time of great peril, the county has their backs.

“We know that the needs will be great,” Alsobrooks said.

More than 70,000 people in Prince George’s County work for the federal government, she said. Later, County Council President Todd Turner said he estimates about 30,000 people in the county are either furloughed or not being paid, based on estimates from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

Turner, D-Bowie, said the Council of Governments has sent a letter urging the president and leaders in Congress to end the shutdown. In that letter, the council says 361,000 federal workers live in the Washington region, along with 400,000 contracted employees.

“We obviously urge our national leaders to stop this. Let’s move on,” he said.

There are ways to discuss policy without holding federal workers hostage, he said.

Families are worried about paying for food and childcare, she said. And she is worried about the affect those stresses may have on citizens’ mental health.

Pages listing all the assistance available for federal employees are available on the county’s website at www.princegeorgescountymd.gov/shutdown. It includes advice on where to get medical care while paying on a sliding scale, how students at the community college can apply for financial help, information on food banks, unemployment, utilities and more.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said it will not shut off anyone’s water, and will delay bill payments, waive late fees and otherwise work with customers who are out of work to make payment plans, according to the page.

On Wednesday BGE issued a press release to raise awareness for existing programs that allow flexible payments or average payments out over 12 months.

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has agreed to provide free before and after school child care for federal workers, and has opened its facilities to federal workers so they can exercise and stay active, Alsobrooks said. She is also allocating an additional $70,000 to a county fund that provides emergency assistance for bills.

Rosie Allen-Herring, president of United Way of the National Capital Area, said not just big contractors are affected.

“The small disadvantaged business that has the printing contract. The janitorial contract. Where those individuals are the least able to absorb this particular loss, and may not be made whole by the time it’s all over with,” she said. “In the meantime, these are the families having to make decisions right now about what they’re going to do to ensure their stability.”

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