The Volusia County Council unanimously approved an additional $583,807 in low-income energy assistance funds, modifying the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget to aid more Volusia County families.

Council members approved the change as part of the consent agenda at the councils regular meeting Dec. 4 in DeLand. The funds are to be used for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) budget, although a portion will go toward administrative costs, according to information provided by the county.

Specifically the increase is part of a three-year agreement with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity that commenced April 1, 2017, and ends Sept. 30, 2020, and will result in a total awarded budget amount of $3,406,935 over that time frame, according to county documents.

The current grant year, April 1 through March 31, 2019, will have an operating budget of $2,010,556. The original grant year award is $1,287,861. The carryover from the previous fiscal year of $138,888.37, with $583,807 in new funds awarded.

“The operating budget of $2,010,556 will be used in three ways: $64,666 in administrative expenses; $239,380 in program and outreach expenses; and $1,706,510 in direct client … assistance,” said Donna DeMarsh Butler, county director of community services, in documents presented to the council. “These funds are used to help low-income families meet the high cost of heating and cooling their homes.”

With the additional funds, more than 3,500 families who would not have received assistance will benefit.

“An estimated 3,800 households will receive assistance with the modified amount,” Ms. Butler said. “In addition to the foregoing, this modification authorizes the county chair to execute the LIHEAP modification documents and the community services director to execute informal modifications and make technical changes to comply with grant guidelines.”

LIHEAP assists low-income families with energy costs in the areas of summer home energy, winter home energy, summer crisis, winter crisis and weather related/supply shortage issues that drive up costs of heating and cooling homes.

Before the increase was approved, an estimated 1,000 county residents would have received summer home energy assistance; 845 would receive winter home energy assistance; 725 would receive summer crisis assistance; 640 would receive winter crisis assistance; and 30 would receive assistance for weather related/supply shortage issues.

With the increase, an estimated 1,250 county residents can receive summer home energy assistance; 1,200 will receive winter home energy assistance; 900 will receive summer crisis assistance; 922 will receive winter crisis assistance; and 75 will receive assistance for weather related/supply shortage issues.

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