CityWatch-Columbia: New City Utility Billing Procedures

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NEW CITY UTILITY BILLING PROCEDURES

series of three bills (B75-16, B76-16 and B77-16) will be considered during the Monday, April 4 Columbia City council meeting that will affect billing procedures related to stormwater, commercial and multi-family housing refuse and recycling and water and electric services.

According to city staff they will be instituting a new software program for utility billing that is slated to go live on May 2 of this year. In advance of the implementation of this new system, staff is requesting that the Council make several changes regarding how billing is assigned; sets specific charges for services in some cases; mandates compaction of waste for complexes with more than 200 bedrooms; and requires Council approval for reductions in stormwater charges rather than allowing such reductions to be made administratively.

City staff contends that these changes will be more convenient for the city and will be compatible with the new system. It is not noted in the staff report whether these changes will result in higher costs or major administrative changes for individual property owners. Such a determination would be difficult for staff to make except on a case-by-case basis. For that reason, it is important for each property owner who may be covered by the changes to read the proposed rules and interpret them as it may apply to his or her individual circumstance.

The following are links to the staff reports on each of three bills:

B75-16 Stormwater Billing Changes – http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Commissions/downloadfile.php?id=21019

B76-16 Commercial and Multi-Family Housing Refuse and Recycling Changes – http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Commissions/downloadfile.php?id=21020

B77-16 Water and Electric Fees Billing and Rate Changes – http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Commissions/downloadfile.php?id=21021

These items all appear in the Consent Agenda portion of the City Council Agenda. By virtue of that fact, there is no official scheduled hearing on any of the three items. However, according to the City’s rules, any Council Member or any citizen may request that an item be moved from the Consent Agenda at the beginning of the meeting. The best way to accomplish this is to contact an individual council member prior to the meeting, explain any issue that may be apparent in any of the three bills, and ask that Council Member to amend the agenda and allow for public comment.

 

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