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City adds new services to ease paying utility bill

Posted: Monday, Jan 6th, 2014

The city of Flandreau is trying to make it as easy as possible for customers to pay their utility bills. This January, the city is implementing three new services.

Budget billing offers a flat payment plan by averaging a customer’s monthly utility bills.

City Finance Officer Tammy Pitsenberger emphasized that budget billing is not a discount but rather a way for customers to even out their payments throughout the year.

“It kind of keeps you from getting caught off guard,” Pitsenberger said.

The free service is open to residential customers who have been living at the same location for 12 months. This provides a year’s worth of utility bills to average into a flat payment.

Some customers can have “extremely high bills in the winter because they have electric heat,” said Karen Gundvaldson, utility billing clerk. “For those high months, it kind of hurts the budget.”

Budget billing allows a flat payment for 11 months of the year. Depending on the customer’s usage, in the 12th month the city and the customer will “settle up.” This will result in a credit on the next month’s bill or a larger payment than the budget amount paid in the previous 11 months.

Applications for budget billing are available at the city office or may be downloaded from www.cityofflandreau.com. The terms and conditions of the budget billing program are available on the applications.

According to Pitsenberger, some customers have requested the ability to pay their utility bills with a credit card or a debit card. She noted that there are fees associated with those kinds of payments and they didn’t want to raise rates for everyone to cover the cost of a service that might be used by only a few customers.

To make credit card payments available, as well as speed the delivery of utility bills, the city has implemented eBill and ePay programs.

The eBill system offers customers their utility bill online at a secure Web server after being assigned a PIN number by the city. An email will be sent automatically to eBill customers, alerting them that a new bill is ready to view. Customers may print out the bill or store it digitally on their computer.

Only those customers signed up for eBill will be eligible for ePay which permits them to make credit card and debit card payments. The system runs through PayPal, but customers don’t need a PayPal account; they can pay using the “guest” option.

A convenience fee of 35 cents and 3 percent of the amount due will be assessed to bills paid through the ePay system.

“That way, they pay for the service themselves,” Gundvaldson said.

Another city service that has been available for some time is an automatic draft from the customer’s bank account on the day the bill is due.

“It’s another option,” Pitsenberger said.

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