Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Placerville to shift to online bill pay by December

From page A3 | August 19, 2013 |

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 Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.






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