I’ve had a few additional comments trickle into my office regarding the water bills, billing cycle, etc… With respect to those items, I thought it would be helpful to lay out how the City of Alpine Water/Wastewater/Sanitation billing transpires on a monthly basis.
We do have a meter reader (Charles M.) who reads the meters throughout our community every month. Each day, his results are shared with our billing clerk (Melissa C.) who verifies and works to ensure accuracy on the inputs. She also handles the re-read requests and any sort of billing questions. Three days prior to the end of the month, our billing clerk runs a series of reports for final verification – and makes any updates that are required. At that point, our billing clerk initiates an e-print of the customers bills.
Our software partner (Asyst) will then take the e-print file and convert that to our postcard format that is hard-printed and handed off to the USPS in Dallas. From there, the USPS transports to their El Paso region center, and then distributed to the recipients.
I hope this explanation gives further detail to our process and procedure. We did convert from the Dearing Billing software to Asyst for our Water/Sewer/Sanitation billing in January of 2016. The reason for the conversion was multi-faceted. First and foremost, the old Dearing software had no maintenance support and put our data at risk of being lost due to a system/hardware malfunction. We also wanted to move forward with implementing the software that our Gas Department utilized (which has been Asyst) in order to help with our overall employee readiness and cross-training.
The majority of last months bills were lost by the USPS in the transition between Dallas and El Paso. We apologize that happened, but it is not uncommon. As I’ve shared with staff, I typically have 3-4 bills from various vendors not make it to my mailbox on an annual basis. It’s also been a nice opportunity for me to remind my recently turned adult son that there will be times he does not get a bill from a creditor or vendor, and he still needs to take the initiative to pay them timely.
Moving forward, we will have the next set of bills going out by the end of the month (as described in the process above). My hope is that the USPS does not happen to find the lost ones from last month and deliver both at the same time. If they do, I’m sure we will all handle it.
We also are working on our e-Bill and e-Payment initiatives to further enhance citizens abilities to view and handle their water, sewer, sanitation and gas bills. As we roll out, we anticipate many of the requestor’s of this type of functionality will be happy.
As always, feel free to call Melissa or Cora with any questions on your Water billing. They are eager and willing to help. My only request is that we keep the conversations professional and data driven. If you have questions they can not answer, Megan, J or myself will be glad to get involved in the dialogue.
Thank you and have a great rest of the week in Alpine,
Erik Zimmer, City Manager