Foundation wants to 'round up' for education

Program would donate change to foundation
Mar. 06, 2013 @ 09:04 PM

The Union County Education Foundation is investigating a new source of revenue that would likely be unique in the state.

The foundation, a nonprofit group to support Union County Public Schools, is looking to work with the county on a "round up" program for residents' sewer and water bills. 

Anyone who gets a bill for sewer or water would find that the bill has been rounded up to the next dollar, chairman Gary Sides explained. The pocket change from rounding up would be collected by the county and given to the foundation. 

"As you could imagine, the gift could be anywhere from a penny to 99 cents a month," Sides said. 

It would be an opt-out program, Sides said. The customer would be able to opt out of the donation and pay the original, non-rounded, fee. 

In February, the Union County Board of Commissioners advised county staff to look into the idea and see if it would be feasible. 

The ball is in the county's court, Sides said. 

Executive Director Dick Baker said the idea is conceptual at this point. 

"It really is extremely early in the process," Baker said. "Ideally, the outcome would be for the foundation to have an ongoing stream of revenue coming into..."

The money would either be designated for a specific use or go into a general account, depending on the agreement reached with the county, Baker said. 

There is a district in Texas with a similar system and other systems throughout the country. However, Baker is not sure if the program has been done with a public utility. 

The foundation plans to proceed cautiously with their plans and agreement before introducing the program. For now they are waiting for County Manager Cindy Coto's input.

"My hope for this program is that it could generate significant revenues that we could use for the initiatives that we've designed as goals for the foundation," Sides said. 

The foundation has provided mini-grants for classrooms and plans to continue with scholarships for at-risk children and tuition reimbursement for teachers. 

Sides discussed the idea during a presentation to the Union County Board of Education Tuesday night.