RMU Shop Local Program seeing success

Spend money locally to receive credits toward future bills


ROCHELLE — Rochelle residents already are in a unique place with living in a town which owns its own utilities. Now, they have a chance to save $60 on their utility bill. Possibly, every month.

The City of Rochelle along with Rochelle Municipal Utilities began the RMU Shop Local Businesses program in August of 2020 and the rules are simple — spend $300 at any of the nearly 90 participating businesses in the “Hub City,” submit your receipts and a small form with your RMU bill and get $60 off a future bill.

The RMU Shop Local Businesses program includes nearly 90 local businesses — some locally-owned and others part of large chains — all of which were closed during Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order last year as they were deemed “non-essential businesses.”

According to Rochelle Community Development Director Michelle Pease, thus far 1,600 applications have been processed for a total of $148,710. “More importantly, though, is $890,231 has been infused into our local economy,” Pease explained.

When the program began, it allowed one discount per customer and there was a limited time. Since then, they’ve extended the program until Dec. 31, 2021 and customers can submit their accumulated receipts of $300 multiple times. Some even donate their discount to non-profits or family members for their RMU bills.

Keep in mind the receipts simply have to add up to $300 without sales tax, you can submit multiple receipts to get to that mark.

The city staff does go through each receipt to ensure customers are submitting receipts from participating businesses as well as to make certain there aren’t repeat receipts.

That’s a lot of receipts and Pease said it could be a fulltime job.

When submitting receipts from local restaurants, customers may write in the amount of the tip; however, sales tax cannot be included in the $300.

“We do go through every receipt and we have to call residents a lot to if the forms aren’t complete,” Pease said. “And we do enjoy the receipts that smell like pizza.”

To see the list of participating businesses as well as get the form to accompany your receipts, go to the RMU website and click on the “Shop Local to Save on Your RMU Bill.”