McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Electric bill aid program out of funds

  • The McPherson Board of Public Utilities’ Operation Warmth program is currently out of funds.
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  • The McPherson Board of Public Utilities’ Operation Warmth program is currently out of funds.
    The Operation Warmth program helps those in need cover utility bills through a matching fund. Those behind on utility bills can apply for the program once a year. The program is offered year round to assist with electrical bills as funds are available.
    Karyne Schrag, customer service supervisor, said funding for the program comes through donations from civic groups, individuals and churches. The board also funds the program through cookbook sales.
    All money given to the program goes to customers. Schrag said the board usually drains the program every year.
    “The community gives us that money, so we drain it yearly to help as many people as possible,” Schrag said.
    Schrag said the program will have more funds as donations come in, and in the meantime, those in need of assistance should visit charities or set up a pay agreement with the board.
    The program has been in effect for more than 30 years. Schrag said 40 families received $4,500 of assistance through the program from January to October of 2012.
    Operation Warmth works through a matching fund. The Board of Public Utilities agrees to pay up to half the outstanding bill using Operation Warmth funds to match how much the person pays.
    “If they owe $500 and can pay $250, the board will pay the rest,” Schrag said. “If they can only pay $200, the board will pay that much.”
    Schrag said Operation Warmth should be used as a last resort. The board checks if a person has applied for aid from other organizations such as Churches United in Ministry, the Salvation Army, and the Department of Children and Families before issuing Operation Warmth funds.
    A person can apply for the program once a year for up to two years in a row. Once approved, the person has 30 days to pay his or her part of the bill.
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