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Water bill change coming for some Columbia County residents

Posted: August 23, 2014 - 11:15pm
Columbia County Water Utility meter reader Landon Swann changes out a water meter in the Ivy Falls neighborhood. The county is considering a change to the billing cycle so that all the water bills aren't due on the same day.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Columbia County Water Utility meter reader Landon Swann changes out a water meter in the Ivy Falls neighborhood. The county is considering a change to the billing cycle so that all the water bills aren't due on the same day.

Water bills will arrive in the mailboxes of some Columbia County residents a little later beginning in November.

Commissioners approved Tuesday to allow Water Utility to switch to cycle billing.

Water Utility Director Billy Clayton said the new billing system simply means that not all water bills will be sent out at the same time.

“It is just time for us to start thinking about cycle billing,” Clayton said at a Management and Financial Services Committee meeting earlier this month. “We send out bills once a month. We have the same cut-off date once a month, the same due date once a month. What that does is really peak the workload for the offices. It’s very very busy, then it slacks off.”

The Water Utility serves more than 40,000 customers. Residents in the Martinez and Evans areas, the eastern part of the county, will continue to get their bills at the beginning of the month.

Beginning in November, the bills for approximately 18,000 customers in the western part of the county, largely west of William Few Parkway, will be mailed on the 15th of the month. Clayton said those residents will get their first bill on the new cycle billing system on or about Nov. 15.

“I think it makes a lot of sense from a workflow and efficiency standpoint,” Commissioner Ron Thigpen said.

Water usage is typically billed on a tiered rate. Because the residents being billed on a new date will actually have one six-week billing period for that Nov. 15 bill, Clayton said he doesn’t want any residents to owe more than their average bill.

So on that one bill, the residents affected in the western part of the county will pay only the base water usage rate.

“We felt like it is the only fair thing, to make sure nobody has any additional charges,” Clayton said. “The important part for us is they were not overcharged by any degree.”

The goal, Clayton said, is to get the bill to the customer as close as possible to the water usage being billed. Staggering the days that bills are sent out allows for Clayton’s staff to better manage the work load and operate more efficiently.

“That would change everything for (the customers affected) as well as it does for us,” Clayton said. “It changes our whole operation as far as how we read meters, when we do our service calls, those types of things.”

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