New utility bills to go out Oct. 31

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, October 27, 2012

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The city of Decatur is hoping its residents see the new utility bill as a treat, not a trick, when it goes out in the mail Oct. 31.

The City Council in September approved a contract with the Southlake firm of DP2 Billing Solutions to print and mail the city’s utility bills. After receiving an electronic data file from the city, DP2 will print the bills, stuff them in envelopes and even mail them with a return envelope – postage not included – a “turnkey” job at a fixed per-piece cost that should actually save the city money.

DP2 has a base charge of 16 cents per bill, with various other one-time and recurring charges detailed on their contract with the city. The city also pays the postage.

Utility billing supervisor Nita Morrow said the city sends out an average of 2,400 bills each month, usually on the last business day of the month.

Personnel from DP2 were scheduled to visit Decatur this coming week and make sure everyone is up to speed on how to create and send the data files. Software changes have already been implemented at Decatur City Hall, Morrow said.

“It’s all set up and ready to go,” she said. “The first round of the new bills should go out on Oct. 31, as long as there are no surprises.”

The new statement should be much easier to read, with a graph that shows water usage and gives residents the amount that is due and the date. There’s a line to allow for a voluntary contribution to the Main Street program or the city’s parks, and there’s a special message area. The city can also insert fliers into the bills if it wishes.

“It’s a very good product, very readable, and it will look very professional,” Finance Director Brad Burnett told the council at their Sept. 4 meeting. “It’s a good upgrade for us.”

And, everyone hopes, for Decatur water customers.

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