Oroville approves online utility bill paying

City will upgrade current computer systems

OROVILLE – Oroville water, sewer and garbage customers may soon be able to pay their bill online as the city council approved the concept at their Tuesday, Oct. 15 council meeting.

“We’ve been outsourcing our utility bills for the last two months now and that has worked well, the next step is online payment and e-billing,” said Kathy Jones, Oroville City Clerk.

“It will save quite a bit on Canadian postage and most of our Canadian customers want to pay online anyway,” Jones added. “Our monthly fee (to the city to add e-billing and online bill pay) will probably be $75.”

Jones explained the outsourcing of the billing has already saved the city money and if customers chose to get their bills through email, rather than have the traditional postcard sent to through the mail, it will save the city even more. She said the service would probably start in about four months if approved.

Councilman Tony Koepke made a motion to approve the city pursuing the new electronic billing and bill paying. The motion was seconded by Councilman Ed Naillon and passed unanimously.

“We’re really excited about this… we think will be able to expand the system to other bills like for the ambulance and the airport,” Jones added.

While moving toward online billing may eventually help to cut down on the number of people coming in to city hall to pay their bills, the current computer systems are struggling to keep up with current needs, according to Jones. She said that customers are experiencing long wait times at the counter while the computer retrieves their billing information. It’s time the city upgrade their systems she said.

“We got a quote, currently we are using Microsoft Office 2003 and XP, which are no longer supported. It will cost $18,500 to upgrade with it all set up and the old data transferred… that includes the server and four work stations and the counter,” said Jones. “We also will contract with them for maintenance as we do now, which includes 24-hour service.”

Councilman Naillon, who is the tech specialist for the Oroville School District and a computer programming instructor, said “That price really is not out of line for that number of workstations… plus the database conversion.”

Jones said that this year’s budget has some of the money in it to use toward the upgrade and the rest can be budgeted for next year.

“We currently have almost 1500 water accounts,” said Jones.

Councilwoman Roley made a motion to approve the upgrades and it was seconded by Naillon and approved unanimously.

Insuring Parking Lot

At the Oct. 1 council meeting Clyde Andrews, president of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce, asked the city if they would look into carrying the insurance for a parking lot the chamber was looking at renting to provide off-street parking. Jones reported that the city’s insurer advised the council not to add the lot to its policy unless it was under direct control of the city.

“If it was under our direction and control then we could provide the coverage. He said on the phone that the chamber should be able to pick up coverage for not much cost because it is not a big piece of property. The insurer would look at the maintenance and quality of lighting, etc.,” said Jones.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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