Coming to bat: City offers federal workers flexibility in paying bills during government shutdown

In the fifth week of the longest recorded government shutdown, approximately 800,000 mandated federal workers and furloughed employees are facing hard times without compensation. While local businesses and individuals have rallied behind the impacted workers, bills are still mounting for…

In the fifth week of the longest recorded government shutdown, approximately 800,000 mandated federal workers and furloughed employees are facing hard times without compensation. While local businesses and individuals have rallied behind the impacted workers, bills are still mounting for families unable to pay.

As a way to alleviate some of the burden, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney publicly announced that federal workers impacted by the partial government shutdown will have a flexible deadline to pay their bills.

“Tens of thousands of federal employees live and work in Philadelphia, and we know some are already struggling,” said Mayor Kenney in a public statement on Jan. 21, coinciding with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service,. “Martin Luther King Jr. understood that the civil rights movement and the drive for workers’ rights are forever intertwined. On this day honoring his legacy, I pledge that the City will do its best to ensure that these workers don’t have to worry about matters like paying their water or gas bills while they are going without a paycheck.”

Both federal employees working without pay and furloughed workers can contact the Department of Revenue, the Water Revenue Bureau, and Philadelphia Gas Work to work out a payment schedule for current bills as well as existing payment agreements.

“If you reach out to us, we can delay enforcement actions, including water shut off and foreclosure,” said Revenue Commissioner Frank Breslin in the public announcement.  “We can also waive interest, penalties, and any other charges that accrue once we receive payment when the shutdown ends. These workers need every break as the shutdown drags on, and we’re committed to doing what we can.”

President Pat Eiding of Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO told Philadelphia Weekly that he commended Mayor Kenney’s actions but was not surprised to hear him stepping up to help out the federal workers in the city.

“A lot of the concerns that folks have now is that their debt is increasing and on that, there are penalties and late fees … That’s just another layer of the problems folks will be having when they finally do get their money,” said Eiding, who also noted a number of unions are collecting items to help out affected workers. “So it’s going to be a big help. It doesn’t seem like much unless you have been in that situation where you live paycheck to paycheck.”

The release also noted that PGW  has a number of assistance programs that may relieve some financial stress for affected workers, including ‘Payment Arrangements’ for those worried about falling behind on payments, ‘Budget Billing’ to avoid surge charges during the winter season and CARES for residential payment assistance.

In addition,  The Bureau of Administrative Adjudication (parking tickets) and the Office of Administrative Review (code violation notices) will take the shutdown into consideration for federal workers paying tickets or fines. Hearing officers have been notified to extend payment deadlines to federal employees at their scheduled hearings.

Contact Information

Federal workers should use the contact information below to attain flexibility in payments. Identify yourself  as federal worker and have proof of federal employment, such as a W2, federal employee ID, or other documentation.

  • For Water & Sewer Bills: wrbhelpdesk@phila.gov or (215) 685-6300

  • For Gas Bills: @MyPGW on twitter, 215-235-1000 or find your nearest PGW customer center at pgworks.com/residential/contact-us/our-locations

  • For Real Estate Tax: revenue@phila.gov or (215) 686-6442

  • For all other City Taxes: revenue@phila.gov or (215) 686-6400

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