New format for city utility bills arriving in mailboxes soon

The city is using a new company to print and mail utility bills and residents will start seeing a new format in their mailboxes soon.

Last fall, the city issued a request for proposals for a new vendor for printing and mailing utility bills.

In December, the City Commission approved a three-year contract with DataProse of Texas. The change will save the city an estimated $23,000 annually, according to the finance department.

The company serves Tyler Technologies New World ERP clients and the City of Bozeman. The city uses Tyler software.

DataProse uses and hosts a secure web portal, which does not have additional fees, according to the city.

Once the file is received, the city has the ability to track the project throughout the production process up to the point of delivery to the U.S. Postal Service and the turn-around time is 24 hours, which is an improvement over the former vendor, according to the city.

Statements are archived for 12 months on the portal, allowing the city to reprint any statement which can then be mailed or emailed to a customer. That archiving costs the city about $174 per month under the agreement.

There is no charge for implementation and in December, staff said it would take about 12 weeks to implement the new arrangement.

A significant improvement to the statement is a consumption graph illustrating the consumption over a 13-month period so all customers will be able to see how they used water in that month of the prior year.

Under the new agreement, the price per envelope mailed, including the bill printing, folding, stuffing and delivery to the USPS, with a return envelope is 0.098 cents.

Under the previous agreement, the city paid 15 cents for a one-sided black and white statement and that price didn’t include the cost of envelopes, which the city was required to purchase separately.

DataProse provides certification, which will reduce the amount of returned mail for inaccurate or incorrect addressing, according to city staff.

Customers can expect to see the following changes: a double window envelope containing your utility bill, a plain return envelope with a single window to send in your payment, a full color bill with the city’s logo in the top left corner, one month of water usage with a consumption history graph outlining thirteen months of water consumption and current charges color-coded by service.

Any past due charges will be highlighted in red.

There will be a box highlighting important messages from the Utilities Department.

The detachable payment stub will be the bottom portion of the statement.

The changes to the utility bills do not impact utility rates.

The billing cycles will not change, so customers can expect to receive their bills at the usual time.

Samples of the new bill, double window envelope and return envelope may be viewed on the city website.

Customers always have the option to view and pay their utility bills online through the City of Great Falls’ secure billpay site.

Contact Utilities Customer Service at 406-727-7660 with any questions.

The city previously contracted with Innovative Postal Services, Inc. since June 2009, for its utility bill printing and mailing services. The city had having issues with statements not being printed and mailed within 24 hours, as required by the contract, as well as issues with the statement presentation, according to the city staff report.