At the regular meeting of Milford City Council on Monday, March 11, council members voted unanimously to contract with Advanced Processing & Imaging Inc. to develop custom computerization and file transfers for utility bills and with Pinnacle Data Systems to print and mail all of the city utility bills. This process will reduce personnel hours spent folding, stuffing and taking utility bills to Dover for bulk mailing, as well as eventually to offer full online billing services to the city’s utility customers.
“Right now, with our four billings each month, we must send one of our employees to Dover to send out our utility bills,” City Manager Richard Carmean explained. “Not only that, we have employees who must stand at a machine, folding bills, stuffing envelopes and then sorting them into boxes in order to mail them out. This happens four times each month.” Mark Roberts of Shibumi Consulting Services, who is working with the city to improve customer service, explained that the current method represents a cost of two days of manpower for each billing cycle, keeping those employees from completing other duties assigned to them. Carmean explained that a meter technician currently must drive the bills to Dover, pulling that technician away from their regular duties.
Although residents may now pay their bill online, the city still mails a paper bill, which includes a return envelope. When someone pays online, the envelope is discarded. This contract will allow the city to move eventually to electronic delivery of utility bills, eliminating the need for bill mailings that include those envelopes. This helps with the city’s green initiative and reduces waste, as citizens pay for those mailings with increased utility rates.
“We also have to remember that storing the paper and envelopes to create these bills costs money, too,” Carmean explained. “Now, this company will be able to transfer our information into their system, customize the bill the way we need it, and they are responsible for the paper and envelope storage.” In addition, the bill will be redesigned with a better breakdown of the utilities being paid on the bill.
“Currently, people just notice that bottom line because that is what they write the check out for,” Carmean said. “Often, they question how they used so much electricity, when in fact, it also includes their water, sewer and trash costs. The new design will make it clear for customers to see exactly what they are paying for.” The new bills will also have an area where announcements, such as the new yard waste policy, or upcoming events can be included.