Increase to utilities allowance in Italy
Increase to utilities allowance in Italy (Photo Credit: Rick Scavetta, USAG Italy) VIEW ORIGINAL

VICENZA, Italy – Soldiers living in private rentals in Italy will see a 60 percent increase in their utilities allowance.

The increase of 749 Euro is roughly $837 at the current exchange rate. Since the Euro to dollar rate fluctuates, the actual dollar amount may change. The Department of Defense recently notified commands in Italy about the increase, which affects service members in from all branches of service.

“In response to rising utility costs in Europe, the military is increasing its utilities and maintenance allowance for service members in Italy,” said Maj. Gen. Todd Wasmund, commander of U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa and the Army’s Senior Responsible Officer for Italy.

Wasmund and Command Sergeant Major Teakell announced the increase recently in a video posted to SETAF-AF’s social media platforms. The increase shows up as a single line item on their Overseas Housing Allowance or Basic Allowance for Housing on their leave and earnings statement, Teakell said.

A working group of country allowance coordinators, organized by U.S. European Command’s personnel directorate, looked at cost increases on letters from utility companies. That data, shared with the DoD, enabled the military to authorize an increase of utility payments.

“Service members and commanders began raising the issue of rising utility bills,” said Maj. Geoff Guinnup, chief of EUCOM’s Command and Personnel Programs Branch, who worked with country allowance coordinators to find a solution.

From them, Guinnup compiled out-of-cycle reviews for service members in Europe who are facing utility challenges. In Italy, a country coordinator at U.S. Navy Europe collected the data. Credit should go to subject matter experts who found the solution and allowance coordinators who gathered and submitted the data, Guinnup said.

“Their effort is helping mitigate financial burdens service members and families face now because of rising energy costs,” he said.

During AFN Vicenza's Commander's Corner, Col. Gomlak discusses the significant increase in the utilities allowance for Soldiers.

Col. Matthew Gomlak, commander of U.S Army Garrison Italy, said it’s important that Soldiers and family members take time to fill out surveys that can affect their finances.

“While this is good news for a portion of our community, we continue to advocate for increases to reflect the costs associated with living overseas for all of our community,” Gomlak said. “When you see surveys regarding overseas housing costs come up, please take time to fill them out.”

The current Overseas Housing Allowance survey is open until the end of March. A link to the current OHA Survey is posted to The Garrison Outlook.