April 28, 2020

Tacoma Public Utilities Expands Relief for Customers
Additional assistance funding and options support our community during the State of Emergency

TACOMA, Wash. –Tacoma’s Public Utility Board and City Council approved additional funding for Tacoma Public Utilities’ Emergency Assistance Program, a relief program established on March 17 in response to the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Since the program launched with $1 million in funding, nearly 10,000 Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) residential customers have applied for the funds, prompting the decision to increase the total funding provided to $2.4 million.

“When we started this program, our goal was to help community members struggling with financial hardship during this emergency,” said Jackie Flowers, director of Tacoma Public Utilities. “In addition to quickly establishing the Emergency Assistance Program, we also extended payment plans, stopped disconnections, and can waive late fees.”

The Emergency Assistance Program provides a one-time utility credit for eligible single-family households whose incomes are within 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines. The amount of assistance is based on the number of services billed by TPU. Most of the funds for the program were previously budgeted for the utility’s existing Bill Credit Assistance Program; however, the eligibility guidelines have been expanded to support significantly more households during Tacoma’s state of emergency. Utility credits from the Emergency Assistance Fund are one time only per household, so customers who have already received a credit are not eligible for an additional credit.

In addition to the relief program, TPU is offering payment assistance and arrangements, extended payment plans, suspended disconnects, and waiver of late fees for residential and business customers.

Customers in need of assistance can apply for the utility credit online at MyTPU.org/EmergencyAssistanceor by calling 253-502-8600.

Business customers can qualify for extended payment plans and waived late fees and are covered under the Mayor’s suspension of disconnections. Resources for businesses can be found at MyTPU.org/COVID19Biz and at MakeItTacoma.com.
TPU customers who receive a paper bill and want to donate to help those in need can check the box on their statement and include a donation with their payment.

At the conclusion of Tacoma’s State of Emergency, the Emergency Assistance Program will continue while there are funds available and customers who need the program.

For more about TPU’s’ COVID-19 response, visit: MyTPU.org/COVID19.

Rebekah Anderson, 253-348-1745


Please see below for Metro Parks information from our furloughed Liaison Craig Standridge:

Hello, this is Craig Standridge from Metro Parks Tacoma. I am writing to let you know that I am being furloughed for 10 weeks, until June 30th, so for the short-term will not be able to represent Metro Parks at SENCO meetings. The temporary representative will be Karen Povey, Conservation Engagement Manager, she can be reached at karen.povey@pdza.org.  Thank you, and I hope to see you soon!!

Here is the press release regarding our recent furlough:


Economic impacts of COVID-19 prompts furlough notices to many full-time staff

Metro Parks Tacoma issued furlough notices to 85 staff members on Tuesday due to the effects of the extended shutdown of sites and programs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Park District projects losing as much as $13 million over six months in fees and sales and property taxes. Even after the Governor eventually lifts the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order as well as other restrictions on social gathering, the financial impact of this crisis will have a lasting impact on Metro Parks operations well into the summer and beyond.

“It is heartbreaking to furlough staff whose unwavering passion helps our agency operate at the highest levels,” Executive Director Shon Sylvia shared in response to the difficult decision. “After extensive research into state and federal assistance, this furlough plan is designed to preserve income and benefits while allowing us to keep enough staff on hand to manage essential functions during the closures. We will get through this, and our talented staff will return to do great work for the community.”

Besides notifying the 85 non-union staff members on Tuesday, the Park District also initiated collective bargaining with IUOE Local 302 over a request to furlough 64 members of the union. If the union agrees, that would bring the total number of furloughed staff to 149.

The furloughs follow the April 1 layoff of approximately 520 part-time employees. Besides the furloughs and layoffs, Metro Parks also is addressing its budget shortfall by reducing non-essential utilities, tapping emergency funding from District reserves, leaving vacancies unfilled, deferring or reducing contracts for service, and reducing pay for executives and senior managers. These efforts combined are projected to save $7.5 million, just over half of the estimated revenue shortfall.

The furlough notices identify an anticipated return-to-work date of June 30. However, Metro Parks leaders hope to recall some employees to active service in batches before that date as they determine what levels of operations can be supported this summer.
“There are many uncertainties at this point, so we are not in a position yet to know the timing for re-opening facilities and restarting programs,” Executive Director Sylvia added. “That’s why we expect the duration of furloughs will vary, depending on circumstances.”

Metro Parks operates a vast network of destinations and experiences, including Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Meadow Park Golf Course, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, community centers, pools, spraygrounds, parks, hundreds of recreation programs, and more. District leaders are working with staff to continue to manage essential functions, including animal care, building systems, and basic park operations and maintenance.

Media Contact:
Nancy Johnson, Metro Parks Tacoma Communications, nancyj@tacomaparks.com,

(253) 226-4530


Please see below for information from our TPD Liaison Lieutenant Eric Scripps:

1.       311 is still operational and running.  This is the preferred method of filing neighborhood concerns that do not meet 911 criteria.  This helps the city as a whole track the concern and route it to appropriate staff (Neighborhood and Community Services, Code Enforcement, Homeless Outreach Team, Community Liaison Officers etc.).  Use the following link for a chart: https://cityoftacoma.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=185466

2.       We do have some Community Policing staff remote working during this time to lessen their chance for exposure.  If our Patrol Division staffing gets in trouble due to virus quarantines then Community Policing staff may be tasked with backfilling.  Staff that is remote working still have access to email, the 311 system, and most, if not all, have their desk phones forwarding to department cell phones. 

3.       All police substations are still closed for public use.  Unfortunately, we do not have an anticipated re-open date currently as information continues to be updated concerning our virus response.

I hope this finds you all well,


Lt. Eric Scripps

Tacoma Police Department




As you may know, unlike the federal government, states are not able to run deficits in their budgets. Here in Washington, we too must balance our budget, and the costs from this pandemic will have to be paid for by a reduction in services. We know so many are hurting right now, and the effects of Covid-19 will be felt for a long time after the initial response is over. Your life and the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors are what matters most, and we will get through this together. In this tough time, it is important we do our best to be resilient, continue to care for one other, and stay informed.

Always keeping us up-to-date, Council Member Beale has the following information for us:

Please see the council budget briefing presentation with information from city staff to the City Council. The presentation covers the deep cuts that are being immediately taken in response to COVID-19. Please let myself, Lynda Foster or Bucoda Warren, as corresponding staff liaisons, know if you all have questions about this information during this critical time and we can try to get you answers.
Thank you.


Gratefully in service,
Chris Beale, AICP

Tacoma City Councilmember, District 5
253.312.0550 (text or call)

Lynda Foster
(253) 591-5166
Bucoda Warren
(253) 594-7925


John Gaines, our TPU Liaison sent the following information for us:


Here are some updates from TPU:

  • Extended payment plans
  • Waiving late fees
  • Providing an Emergency Assistance Fund
  • Suspending disconnects
  • Extended call center hours

Call our Customer Services team to get the best solutions for you at: 253-502-8600. MyTPU.org/COVID19

Lastly, we updated the Power rates content to reflect the delayed rate adjustment.


“The Public Utility Board and City Council voted Tuesday, March 31 to delay this rate increase until July 1, 2020. This decision is in response to the current State of Emergency caused by COVID-19.”

I am available to answer any questions. Thank you,

John Gaines


John Gaines, DBA | Tacoma Public Utilities

Community Relations Manager | Public Affairs & Communications

Desk (253) 441-4661 | Cell 253-260-0065


April General Meeting Canceled

Hi Friends and Neighbors,

Due to continued stay-at-home orders for Covid-19, we will not be having our April General SENCo meeting this month.  We hope you all are staying safe at home, and look forward to seeing you again someday. Take good care of yourself and each other out there, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s any way we can be of service. senco253@gmail.com

Your SENCo Chair,


29Mar2020 New From City of Tacoma: Small Business Loan Information in 6 Languages

We have so many great small businesses in Tacoma, and the South End is no exception.

From Tibbitts Fern Hill, Little Jerry’s, Bill’s Clock and Watch Repair, and The Hoarders Attic Thrift Shop over to Manic Mermaid, Bambu, Lincoln Hardware,  El Zocalo, Vien Dong, Gari of Sushi, and Uncle Thurms, and Taqueria La Fondita, with Jet Black Grooming, Tammie Nails Salon, and La Perla Del Mar inbetween… just to name a few.

Like many of us right now, small businesses are hurting in this crisis. The City of Tacoma has developed a new stabilization loan fund to offer some additional support for small businesses. Click on a link below in one of six languages for more information about this program.







For questions about this information, please email covid19loan@cityoftacoma.org.

We’re all in this together. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there is anything we can do to be of service: senco253@gmail.com

March General Meeting Canceled

Better safe than sorry, folks!

Due to health concerns from Covid-19, our March 16th General Meeting is canceled. Our next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 13th at 7pm. If there are cancellations, we will let you know at least two weeks in advance.

  • Here is a link to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department website:

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Website

  • Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department phone number:

1 (800) 525-0127 and press # to reach Washington State Department of Health’s call center. The call center is open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. 7 days a week.

  • Covid-19 school information website:

Covid-19 Information for Schools Website

Take care and be safe out there, everyone!

Welcome to Our Newest Board Member Elizabeth Armstrong!

We are pleased to announce our newest South End Neighborhood Council board member, Elizabeth Armstrong!

Elizabeth is a lifelong Tacoma resident and homeowner in the South End who cares deeply about this great city of ours. As an Able Bodied Seaman who works for the the Washington State Ferries, she is also a member of the IBU, the Inland Boatman’s Union. As an avid sailor both on and off the clock, she is also involved in the Tacoma Women’s Sailing Association, and takes part in her new hobby of falconry with the Washington Falconer’s Association.

We are grateful to have Elizabeth aboard the goodship SENCo and we welcome her to the team! Please join us in welcoming her at our next meeting on February 24th at 7pm.