Board wants to help indigent with utilities

Published 11:59 pm Monday, March 5, 2012

The Opp Utilities Board Monday discussed ways to potentially help customers who have “are falling on hard times” pay their utility bills.

Board member Oren Stewart said he didn’t know many details on a program called Project Share, but said he would like for the board pursue something like the program.

“I believe the Red Cross handles it, he said. “Maybe we could get someone to come and talk to us about it.”

The Red Cross offers assistance during the winter and summer months through an application and interview process in which money owed for the utility bill is paid directly to the power supplier.

Funding for the assistance is provided through the Project Share program, the energy assistance program for low-income elderly or disabled individuals. It is a voluntary program, established by the utility companies in the state of Alabama, and funded through contributions from the utilities and private individuals who choose to donate $1 or $2 on their monthly utility bills.

Mayor H.D. Edgar suggested the board speak to someone with the Andalusia Utilties Board since they participate.

“Let’s talk to Andalusia and see how they do it, ” he said.

Stewart suggested a line item could be setup for locals to donate each month.

“It should be very easy to set up, ” said Stacy Parker of the Utilities Board. “We can set it up like we did the RoundUp funds that go to the schools.”

The mayor reminded the board the local churches have a benevolence fund that works similarly to the program.

Board member Charles Willis said the fund has a board that looks at the criteria.

The board agreed if they went with the Project Share option, they would need to check with the Benevolence fund to see who were “repeats.”