More federal money is headed to the Iowa program that helps low-income families pay heat bills. Jerry McKim is administrator of LIHEAP, the low-income heating assistance program in Iowa. He says it’s long overdue and much appreciated, but they finally got the additional funds. The spending boost was announced Friday. With more money in the program, McKim has instructions for anyone who still needs help paying those winter heat bills.

They’ll keep taking applications through April fifteenth. If you’re income-eligible, go sign up to get some of the new money. If you’ve already applied to the program, he says you don’t have to do anything. So, everyone who has an application in by April fifteenth will get a credit on their energy bill. SO with the need always outpacing the money available and big jumps in energy prices the last two years, why isn’t the federal low-income heating assistance program budgeted for several years at a time? He’s been pushing for years for a longer-term funding arrangement, saying there’s a “whole host of reasons why we should have advanced funding.”

For one, in October when the winter’s LIHEAP program begins to go into effect, he has no idea what that winter’s funding total will be, yet employees in branch offices across the state must start taking applications for it. Currently people who think they’re eligible but haven’t yet signed up are being urged to fill out the paperwork, so they can get a share of the supplemental funding just announced on Friday for the heating-assistance plan. For more information, phone the LIHEAP program office at (515) 281-0859.