At their regular meeting on August 10th, Rochelle’s City Council voted to enhance and extend utility assistance programs for residential customers struggling to pay their balance.
The utility offers a deferred payment program where customers can avoid disconnection by entering into a payment agreement. The agreement allows for a 5% down payment and divides the outstanding balance over the next twelve months. During that twelve month period, the customer must stay current on payments or risk shut-off. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City Council authorized suspension of utility shut-offs. Shut-offs will resume in September for customers that haven’t made payment arrangements with the utility office.
“These are tough times for our residents and we’re doing everything we can to help ease the burden,” said Mayor John Bearrows of the programs.
In addition to the deferred payment program, Rochelle Municipal Utilities also offers a payment assistance program for low-income residents. In April, the City Council approved an increase in the program from $300 to $500 per customer and increased the poverty level rate from 150% to 200%. In August, the Council extended these provisions through the end of 2020 and authorized the City Manager to extend the program through 2021 if warranted. To date, 89 customers have received the $500 utility assistance for a total of $44,500 in assistance to our local customers.
“We say it often, but here is another example of the benefit to owning a local utility,” said City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh. “We see the struggles our customers are facing and have the ability to adapt and develop programs to assist.”
To apply for either program, please contact the RMU Customer Service Office at 562-4155. A Customer Service Representative will be glad to walk you through the application process. Application forms are available online at www.rmu.net.