Customers donate over $40,000 in change

As 2013 draws to a close, customers of Anoka’s electric utility have donated tens of thousands of dollars to local organizations.

Lori Yager, finance director for Anoka, said so far this year $40,615 has been collected through the utility’s Round Up for Change program.

Electric customers are able to have their bill rounded up each month, with the change donated to a number of different non-profits.

The average annual donation is around $6, Yager said, or 50 cents a month.

The program got off to a controversial start in 2012, when there were complaints because customers’ bills were automatically rounded up and they had contact the city to opt out of the program.

“We took a little heat for it … but it’s a really great program,” said Councilmember Mark Freeburg.

Donations to Alexandra House and Youth First Community of Promise had previously been line items in the police department’s budget.

Under Round Up for Change, both Alexandra House and Youth First are receiving more financial support from the city than either organization had in the past.

According to state law, the city can only make donations to organizations that assist children, families or the elderly.

When new customers sign up for service they are asked if they want to participate in Round Up for Change.

“We have been getting a pretty good response for that,” Yager said.

Also, customers who weren’t aware their bill was being rounded up can contact the city and be reimbursed for the current year.

The year will likely end with slightly lower donation totals than 2012, Yager said.

Already this year Anoka has donated $13,000 to Youth First, $3,000 to Alexandra House, $815 to CEAP (food shelf serving east Champlin) and $4,264 to CROSS (food shelf serving west Champlin).

Anoka’s electric utility serves customers in Anoka and Hennepin counties and those donations are allocated based on what is collected from customers in each county respectively.

Based on budget collections in the second half of 2013, donations will be made to the ACBC Food Shelf for $5,155, Youth First for $5,455, Alexandra House for $5,145, Stepping Stone Emergency Housing for $2,065, CEAP for $885 and CROSS for $4,625.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]