SIDNEY — Sidney’s City Council heard updates on the city’s utility billing during the Monday evening meeting.
Karen Berning, revenue collection manager, presented the information on the city’s revenue collections department. Her report included payment options: AutoPay (customer provides bank account number); customer’s online banking, online via the city’s website; and payment by cash, check or money order in person, in the drop box; or by mail.
According to 2018 statistics, residents paid most often by cash, check or money order. The current average monthly cash usage is 3,255 out of a total of 6,301 for all the methods combined. This method is the most costly for the city, at about .94 cents per transaction including staff time, Berning said.
Paying via the customer’s online banking is the least costly for the city, at .10 per transaction, Berning’s report showed. Currently the city receives 828 monthly payments from customer’s online banking through their own bank. Paying in this method saves customers a stamp and avoids mail time issues. Berning said the customers’ funds remain in their bank until the they set a date to pay the bill. She noted that customers paying through online banking will still will receive a paper bill to verify billed amounts and usage.
Berning reported that the city receives 283 monthly payments via autopay, 839 credit card payments at the counter, and 1,096 monthly payments by e-checks and credit cards through the city’s website at http://www.sidneyoh.com/Utility-Billing/index.asp .
Customers also have the option to receive bills by email. Currently 247 customers receive ebills instead of paper, which is up from 207 in 2018. This cuts the city’s costs for postage, paper bills and envelopes. It also offers advantages to the customer, including immediate access to the bill and a 13-month history of their bills.
Council member Ed Hamaker asked why more residents don’t receive their bill by email. Berning said despite information being advertised on the paper bills, they find it to be the least popular method in which wish to receive their utility bill. Paper bills cost the city about .56 cents per bill. She said they would continue to try to find new ways to let the public know they can receive bills via email.
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