Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Placerville to shift to online bill pay by December

By
From page A3 | August 19, 2013 | 22 Comments

Hate writing out that check for water/sewer payments and mailing it in? If you’re used to doing most of your bill-paying online, the city of Placerville, by December, will have joined the ranks of those who will accept online bill pay.

At the Aug. 13 Placerville City Council meeting, council members voted 4-0 to approve a system that would provide ratepayers online access to their utility account and the ability to make payments online. In addition, the city will have the ability to accept online payment for business license payments and renewals, alarm permits and other city charges.

The software, Click2Gov, allows ratepayers to make a quick, one-time payment using a credit card minimal information and a credit card or to create a user profile and set up an e-check system debiting their checking account on a pre-determined date each month or every other month. Ratepayers can monitor their billing, water consumption and payment history online.

Representatives from Sungard Public Sector, Inc., providers of the software, Carlene Goodeill and Lea Buckley provided a walk-through via PowerPoint for the council.

The new system will allow ratepayers to receive bill notification online or a paper bill by mail or both. Ratepayers who don’t want to pay online can still access their utility account, check their consumption by month and by year and view all the city services they pay for. Those who do choose to pay their utility bills online can select their payment method, choose when the payment will go out and monitor when their payments are applied.

Business licenses and other city charges will be able to be paid online and by clicking on the hyperlinks, prospective business owners can view information about similar businesses in the area. “There is also a module for building permits and planning that we can expand to,” said Placerville Financial Director Dave Warren.

Click2Gov is Payment Card Industry compliant, providing security for both consumers and the city. “Once the ratepayer puts their credit card in the account, no one has access to it,” said Warren. “Not even I can get their credit card information.”

“The data is not stored locally and it is heavily masked,” said Lea Buckley.

 The total one-time start-up cost for the Click2Gov system is $18,200, including license fees and professional services. Monthly access fees and the $0.055 per transaction fee are $6,419 for the remainder of 2013-2014 Fiscal Year and will come out of the $25, 784 Capital Improvement Budget for 2013-2014.

Ongoing expenses for annual access fees and estimated transaction fees for 2014-2015 are estimated to be $11,303 and will be incorporated into the city’s 2014-2015 Operating Budget. The transaction fee of 5 1/2 cents will not be added to the ratepayer’s bill.

“The ratepayer only pays the cost of their utilities — no surcharge will be added,” said Warren. “The city will bear the cost of the transaction fee.”

Advantages of using an online bill pay system for the city are reduced costs of billing, more efficient use of staff time, more timely payments and less time doing collections. For ratepayers the benefits are 24-hour accessibility to their accounts, the ability to link multiple accounts to one master account,the convenience of paying online and an autodraft system for automatic payments from their checking accounts. “There is a real value added for our ratepayers,” said Warren, “especially since we are closed on Friday.”

“If half the ratepayers used online bill pay, we’d save about $500 in postage, the cost of paper bills and bank service charges,” said Vice Mayor Carl Hagen. The current cost of mailing the bills is about $1,000 every two months said Warren, and the city stands to save in other soft costs such as staff time doing collections and reduced counter time.

The city is currently converting its financial software from an AS400 server housed at City Hall to an ASP  ”cloud” environment and anticipates the conversion to be completed by September. The Click2Gov software will most likely be available to the public in December and will be advertised via a flyer in the utility bills, on the city Website and on the city Facebook page.

Mayor Wendy Thomas pointed out another advantage of using the online bill pay when it comes online in December: saving the cost of a stamp.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or wschultz@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.

 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 22 comments

  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 6:14 am

    This is as good a place as any to point out that for the past three years the City's Water & Sewer operations have become significant profit centers. While the City's financial statements give conflicting information, one figure shows Sewer turning in a profit approaching $1M for y/e June 2012.

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  • Foaming at the MouthAugust 19, 2013 - 9:12 am

    Evelyn - You know that "profit center" is false. No surplus from the sewer fund can be transferred to the general fund. The surpluses are being spent to chip away at 40 years of deferred maintenance and capital replacement. And don't forget about your 10% rate rebate, courtesy of the Measure H sales tax that is mostly paid by tourists. Of course, it's much more fun to hint darkly about official misconduct, isn't it?

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  • Phil VeerkampAugust 19, 2013 - 9:30 am

    Foaming, any idea of the number of millions of bonds that the new sewer plant has run up? Perhaps this "profit" will pay down debt. What a concept!!!

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  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 9:37 am

    Foaming: Thank you for the correction. Accepted. Since Water and Sewer are treated as Business Type Activities, perhaps we can settle on SURPLUS?

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  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 9:40 am

    PROFIT CENTER: "A profit center is a section of a company treated as a separate business. Thus profits or losses for a profit center are calculated separately." - HERE

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  • Phil VeerkampAugust 19, 2013 - 9:43 am

    that's nice - are you attempting to trace the loot to kim kerr? Is the "profit" better or worse than a loss? Just what is your point here??? It seems like GOOD news!

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  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 9:45 am

    It's certainly not BAD news.

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  • James E.August 19, 2013 - 10:04 am

    Water/Sewer rates were raised (2 years ago I believe. But maybe 3 years ago, how time flies) to pay for the sewer plant and deferred maintenance since the time of Jesus. So, there shouldn't be a surplus, as all monies should be going to pay for the sewer plant and deferred maintenance. I think my rates doubled. If we have a "surplus" not needed to pay for the sewer plant and deferred maintenance, then lower the rates (should I hold my breath?

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  • James E.August 19, 2013 - 10:06 am

    *** )

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  • Foaming at the MouthAugust 19, 2013 - 11:52 am

    James - please explain how you save up for an expensive project without running a surplus until the money is spent. Phil - I think the sewer debt is about $40 mil. It's a loan from the state.

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  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 12:08 pm

    Foaming: The Financial Statements show 2012 Sewer Depreciation = $520,574. Accumulated Sewer Depreciation = $31,156,526. Isn't this the provision for capital asset replacement?

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  • James E.August 19, 2013 - 12:16 pm

    Foaming, it is my understanding that the sewer plant has already been built, so we aren't saving up for it -- we are repaying the $40 million the state loaned us to build the plant. Correct me if I'm wrong.

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  • Fran DuchampAugust 19, 2013 - 1:41 pm

    Hello James...I just had the can of beanie weenies for lunch--I ate them cold with flour tortillas--it was worth the $2.00. They are saltier than doing fresh hot dogs (which I love) but I pictured myself out in the cold being tired and hungry...I really like them. thanks. (pork and beans in a can are sweeter--so are still my favorite..bar-b-que chicken...mac n cheese--yummy.lolol.)

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  • James E.August 19, 2013 - 1:51 pm

    Fran, I told you the taste would be more intense. They will always hold a place in my heart, as I remember tearing open cases of C-Rations and finding a meal of Beanee Weenee. A small joy in a bad situation.

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  • Foaming at the MouthAugust 19, 2013 - 1:57 pm

    James - two things. First, the state loan payment ramps up hugely next year. Two, the City's sewer system has miles of tarpaper pipe that fell apart years ago and needs replacing.

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  • Foaming at the MouthAugust 19, 2013 - 1:59 pm

    Evelyn - That's how much they need, not how much they have.

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  • Phil VeerkampAugust 19, 2013 - 2:01 pm

    Bottom line, the notion of "profit" in city water/sewer is ridiculous. EVERY municipality is behind the curve in infrastructure repair/replacement.

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  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    Altogether interesting. And profitable. Thank you, Foaming. You have earned that cup of coffee I promised a couple weeks back, though on different grounds. It looks like TOTAL waste-water treatment plant debt = just under $60M. And payment for most/all must come from revenues. Shall I meet you outside City Hall?!!

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  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 2:39 pm

    Check above $60M HERE: Government-Wide Financial Statements (See: 1997 & 2 x 2006 Loans)

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  • EvelynAugust 19, 2013 - 2:46 pm

    Oops. Forgot page no. = document pg.#44 (pdf 48)

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  • James E.August 19, 2013 - 4:03 pm

    Foaming, yes I know about the tar paper pipes -- installed during the War of the Roses. This is the maintenance our increased payments are supposed to be repairing. In the last three years, has anyone seen any tar paper pipe replacement? Nothing in my neighborhood.

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  • EvelynAugust 24, 2013 - 12:47 pm

    Foaming at the Mouth, you are well informed about City finances. Your 8/19/13 (9:12am) comment includes: "No surplus from the sewer fund can be transferred to the general fund." However, here Patricia Whittier's article about City Pensions mentions expensing "City Hall costs under the Sewer Plant'. This seems to mean that sewer plant surpluses are being used to pay unrelated other expenses. Can the City do this?

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