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Utility bill help could resume in Quincy

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By Alice Du Pont

Quincy leaders discussed implementing a new program geared toward helping citizens who are struggling with their utility bills. The program, called “Round-Up,” which was once called Project Help, could begin as soon as a minor survey is completed to determine how many citizens would participate in the program.

The city started a program in 2007, which was designed to help utility customers who have a financial need and are unable to/ pay their utility bill.

“We solicited the support of individuals, groups, organizations and businesses. As a result of Project Help, contributions were made in the form or cash, checks and monthly pledges which were added to the utility bills. The project has generated $9,500 in revenue since its inception. These funds are administrated by Capital Area Community Action Agency in addition to the city’s contribution,” said Ann Sherman, director of customer service.

Sherman said her staff believes there is an ongoing need in this community to help families who truly have a need for such a program.

“We looked around the state to determine services that other municipalities are offering and found that a program that is in place in several municipalities and independents called ‘Round-Up,’” Sherman said.

Round-Up is a program that rounds up the utility bill to the nearest dollar. As an example, Sherman said, if a customer’s bill were $295.67, the bill would be rounded up to $296.00. The $.33 cents is the round-up amount that would be added to the bill and forwarded to CACCA. Each participant will be carefully screened and evaluated to ensure these funds are distributed to those in need.

To participate in the program, the city has a survey in place that can be completed by mail, telephone or in the office.
“The only thing the customer has to do is decide whether or not they want to participate. They can opt out at any time,” Sherman said.

“I think it’s a good program, and I will be the first to sign up because I think it’s a good program,” said Quincy Commissioner Andy Gay.