Orange Park passes utility bill roundup option

By Nick Blank nick@claytodayonline.com
Posted 1/19/22

ORANGE PARK – The Town of Orange Park council members have unanimously approved giving residents the option to round up their water bills so they can help residents in need.

At Tuesday night’s …

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Orange Park passes utility bill roundup option

Posted

ORANGE PARK – The Town of Orange Park council members have unanimously approved giving residents the option to round up their water bills so they can help residents in need.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, the council polished off a process that began in early December.

Customers can enroll in a program to round up their bills, in the form of donations, to cover past due amounts of other users. The donors can withdraw at any time and the donations will not be used for account deposits or current bills.

Town officials and staff discussed how to administer the initiative. The St. Vincent de Paul Society manages a similar fund for the Clay County Utility Association and was tabbed to help the town with their fund. According to town documents, the funds collected will not leave the town and the St. Vincent de Paul Society acts as an evaluating agency for possible applicants.

Town Manager Sarah Campbell said a flyer in the utility bills will outline the plan for customers. She said the town can review who the society chooses for the account assistance. Each beneficiary can receive assistance once a year.

“(The St. Vincent de Paul Society) were happy to take on our program for us,” Campbell said. “They were excited.”

For CCUA, Campbell said, their account usually pays off past due accounts of $60-$80 at a time. It’s a bank account that doesn’t run on a fiscal year, she said.

“It’s a designated account,” Campbell added.

Council Member Alan Watt wanted the account to be available for current bills if the recipient was eligible. He also advocated for an outright donation option on the town’s bill to complement the roundup option. However, the town’s bill template only has one spare line, Campbell explained.

“I think it can apply to a current bill the same way it applies to an overdue bill,” Watt said.

Mayor Randy Anderson said he learned of the idea from a resident during a council walk in the community. He said the Jacksonville Electric Authority has an option for residents to round up and town residents have to take care of each other.

“This is another way for the community to help residents who need assistance,” Anderson said. “Now, we’ll be covered on the waterside and the electrical side.”

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