With the Boro Bucks program announcement this past April, it was accompanied by the expectation of students being able to utilize this balance account at 31 different vendors throughout both Edinboro and the surrounding area. At the beginning of the fall semester, though, only five were included in the new program, while Edinboro mainstays such as John’s Wildwood Pizzeria, The Edinboro Hotel Bar and Norman’s Deli & Pizzeria were absent.
“It’s not what we originally thought it was. We thought it was flex and had been fighting to get that for years. The setup of Boro Bucks was just really expensive,” said John Bellucci, owner of John’s Wildwood.
“It’s an entirely separate program from Flex and we felt like now wasn’t the best time for us to get involved. I’m not saying never, but to pay what they want, it just doesn’t seem good when we’re already pretty busy.”
When asked about their participation, a representative from Norman’s echoed that sentiment, stating, “It costs way too much to join. We would, but it is way too expensive.”
This cost-related reasoning is something Interim Associate Vice President for Financial Operations, Eric Sheppard, has had his attention on, though. According to Sheppard, the program includes a $250 one time setup fee, along with a monthly fee of $30. The “interchange fee,” though, set through marketing partner, CBORD, began at 6 percent, a marker Sheppard relayed to The Spectator, “people thought was too high.” In response, the percentage was then reduced to 4 percent through the sales process and now sits at 3.4 percent. This current setting, according to Sheppard, is the lowest a CBORD partner has offered. And at the 4 percent level, the university began making no money on the plan.
Flip Cafe, who previously approached the university about such a program and endorsed Boro Bucks in April, with owner Julie Decker stating she “would be ecstatic if we got this started,” is also absent from the list.
And The Edinboro Hotel Bar, when asked about participation, had also “heard from other business owners that they passed due to the costs associated with the start-up fees [and] the percent per transaction.” Owner Pat Hargest did state, though, that following more research “as it relates to my current credit card processor,” he may “join the program in the future.” Hargest would also cite concerns over separation between food and alcohol on bills with students utilizing Boro Bucks.
The current participating vendors are highlighted by local restaurants La Grille and Lakeside Bagel, with chain locations CVS Pharmacy, McDonald’s and Sheetz. Giant Eagle is also in the process of becoming an active participant. And this current start still has Sheppard excited about the program.
“The idea of Boro Bucks has been desired by students and the community for at least 10 years now,” he said. “It’s great because parents and guardians can send money or set up a fund for their child to spend money at local merchants rather than just on campus only.”
Sheppard would describe this process of adding more vendors as “moving along slowly,” but one expected to “gradually increase” and become a “winwin” as it grows. In the future, he hopes to see Boro Bucks used on campus, as well as at places like the bookstore and the SGA Convenience Store. In the long term, Sheppard hopes to see Boro Bucks in Erie, as well.
The program allows students, faculty and staff to create and fund a declining balance account on their existing Edinboro University ID cards. The amount on the card will then be available for use at select off campus businesses. To create your Boro Bucks account, you will need to visit the Edinboro University ID Card Office in Van Houten, the EU Bursar’s office in Hamilton Hall, or the GET Funds Site at get.cbord.com/edinboro.
Parents, guardians and employees can use the GET Funds site to add funds to the Boro Bucks accounts or they can mail a check to the Bursar’s Office. With all three options, a minimum of $25 is required to get started, but you can add as many dollars as you wish to the account like a bankcard.
Boro Bucks is not to be confused with flex dollars.Flex dollars come from your meal plan and are used on campus only for food and drinks. Boro Bucks are a separate entity and are to be used mostly off campus.
For more information and updates on Boro Bucks, check out their page in MyCampus.
Karlee Dies is the news editor for The Spectator. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.