New bill pay options available to Cassville residents next year

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The City of Cassville's new utility billing system will give local residents new payment options next year. City employees hope to begin processing direct debits within the next few months.

"We are so excited about this new system," said Darelyn Cooper, Cassville finance officer. "The reason we purchased the new system was that we were having problems with our old system.

"We were occasionally missing billings," said Cooper. "We also were required to do back-ups and restorations quite often. We were afraid the system would crash on us."

In September, the Cassville City Council approved a $15,000 bid from Continental Utility Solutions, Inc., for the utility billing system. The new software was installed, and city employees were trained on Dec. 8 and 9.

"Right now we are in the data verification stage," said Cooper. "We are double checking all 1,600 bills that are sent out to make sure all of the information has been transferred correctly."

The city is currently conducting its second parallel billing cycle. If no discrepancies are found in the January 2010 bills, city residents could begin receiving utility bills through the new system in February.

"The new bills will look a little different," said Cooper. "They will be about the same size, but they will have colored areas that the old bills did not have. We will use the same postcard format, but the bill will give the customer a little more information, such as the meter reading dates."

The new billing system will also give city employees more information about city utility accounts. The additional information will be useful in determining when meters should be replaced and how to schedule other maintenance projects.

"This system will allow us to offer services that we haven't been able to offer in the past due to the restrictions of the existing system," said Cooper. "For instance, we will begin offering direct debits once we complete the parallel billing.

"Later, we will be able to accept credit card and debit card payments," said Cooper. "That will be much later though, because we will need to set up a secure website first. We are really excited about this new system, though. It has some really good features available."

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