ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — From water bills to outstanding taxes, local and state agencies are jumping in to help Marylanders affected by the federal shutdown.
Mayor Catherine Pugh is asking utility companies to waive late fees to help try to keep federal employees afloat until they are back to work.
“We also talked with BGE and all of our other consumer partners, mortgage companies, and said, look we need everybody to provide relief at this time,” Pugh said.
So far, she says, those furloughed or working without pay will get extra time to pay their water bills with no penalty.
She said she is in talks with BGE to set up a similar plan.
Meanwhile, the City’s housing authority is tapping into reserve funds to pay employees and landlords.
Food stamps have also been funded through January and February.
“We’re asking everyone to lean in. Again, we don’t want folks suffering in our communities. Our food banks and everything will be open to them as well,” Pugh said. “But, we want to make sure people don’t have to strain their own finances to overcome what the federal shutdown is doing to neighbors throughout our community,”
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot announced that his office will assist federal workers and furloughed employees as the government shutdown nears its fourth week.
He said 172,000 Marylanders who are federal employees or contractors did not collect a paycheck last Friday.
Each missed biweekly payday costs those workers $778 million total.
“Obviously, it’s putting a lot of stress on those families. It’s putting a lot of stress on the state’s economy,” Franchot said.
Those impacted by the shutdown currently on payment plans with the state may be granted reduced or even suspended payments during the shutdown.
The Comptroller’s Office will help federal workers with “personal income liabilities and other outstanding tax obligations” on a case-by-case basis.
“The longer this government shutdown lasts, the more financial hardship it is causing federal workers, some of whom may never get repaid,” Comptroller Franchot said in a release. “My agency recognizes that Marylanders affected by this prolonged impass face a greater burden to make ends meet and to fulfill their tax obligations. As always, we stand ready to help Marylanders facing these challenging times.”
He said the shutdown is also putting a unique strain on small businesses where January and February are already the slowest months of the year.
Federal workers who may have outstanding Maryland tax obligations are asked to contact the Comptroller of Maryland’s Ombudsman’s Office by email at email@example.com or by calling (410) 260-4020.
To further assist taxpayers, the following email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — has been set up for specific shutdown-related questions and problems.