City is changing its sewer billing system

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By AMBER WARD
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – The city is moving forward with bringing sewer billing back in-house.
The City Council met for a study session Monday at the Municipal Center to review progress on the new billing system.
“I thought it was a good time to bring this back to council to show where we are at,” said Kelvin Shaw, director of finance. “There are no decisions to make at this time. This is a review about where we have been and where we are going.”
He said that the project has reached several milestones, including approval of the project plan, selecting the software and creating two new staff positions.
He said the new billing system will cost approximately $80,000.
Shaw said the previous sewer billing system had problems, which is why the city is taking over billing.
“The data we were receiving from our outside vendor was suspect at best and did not tie to the financial information summary reports we were receiving from them,” he said.
TPi Billing Solutions is the current vendor based in Tulsa, Okla.
Shaw said they recruited two new personnel to help run the new system. Carey Smith is the new sewer utility collections specialist. Vickie Wright, an internal transfer, is the sewer utility billing specialist.
Shaw said the next steps will be implementing the software, testing, converting the client files and terminating the contract with TPi.
Shaw said the first bills using the new system are scheduled to be sent out the first two weeks in November.
Mayor Donna Defrain brought up the concern about billing customers twice during that month.
“Is it (the bill) going out or is it just the practice run?” Defain asked. “When will you notify TPi?”
Shaw said that the test run of the billing system will occur during October, and TPi will be notified the second week of November for termination.
Councilmember Robin Allen suggested the city send out a sample bill to customers so they would know what the new sewer bills will look like.
Other councilmembers agreed with this idea.
Shaw said he and his team are working to ensure that there are as few issues as possible with the new system.
Councilmember Casey Renfrow said since the billing system was being brought back in-house, people may be more understanding of the minor issues.
“We are starting something new,” he said. “I think people, when they know you are starting something new, they will give you that one month or two months to kind of get it going and they will have some understanding.”
Shaw said they are not going to have the same issues with the new system as the old system, such as addresses changing on bills.
“We hope to fix a lot of those problems,” he said.