A new payment system for city utility customers could streamline the process and make it easier for city officials.
The utility will enter into an agreement with Pay it, an online payment provider, to the Fort Smith board of directors at its meeting on Tuesday, September 21.
Director of Utilities Lance McAvoy and Josh Robertson, Deputy Director of Business Administration for the Department of Utilities, presented the option during the final board study session held at the facility of maintenance of Kelley Highway.
“One thing we still get the most complaints about from the transition is the online bill payment site,” said Robertson. “We’ve found what we think is the best provider and it’s called PayIt.”
The PayIt interface streamlines resident utility billing and offers secure, real-time payment processing, according to the company’s website. He also says the system helps local governments reduce late payments and improve the flow of communication.
PayIt handles more online payments for municipalities across the country than any other online payment provider, Robertson said. Cities that currently use PayIt include Kansas City, Memphis, and St. Louis.
Officials at Olive Branch in Mississippi switched to the online provider just over a month ago, said Jackie Riles, head of utilities.
“It’s wonderful,” Riles said, noting that the city can accept credit card payments online and has helped with the workload of billing staff.
There have been a few issues, but Riles attributes this to the recent change and said the company is working to resolve them.
Residents of Olive Branch can not only pay their utility bills through PayIt, but anything related to the court system.
“It’s not just for utility bills,” Robertson said. “It can be a one-stop-shop for all payments made to the city – licenses, permits, parking tickets – it can all be done in one place. ”
If approved by the board of directors, Fort Smith would be the first city in Arkansas to use the system.
“We will make the launch coincide with the upgrade of the ERP because it will have the database, everything will be more transparent,” said McAvoy.
People will already have to enter and fill out customer service portal login information due to the update, McAvoy said.
“That way, when we have to do it, they’ll have payment portals that they can use,” he said.
“People will have a new way to enter and pay their bills with a proper user interface and save money – as we’ve heard from many people – by saving credit card numbers and making them much more usable. “said city administrator Carl Geffken.
Customers cannot register their information through the current Munis customer service portal used by the city.
Customers can currently pay their bills online, in person at two locations, by phone, by mail, or at five drop boxes located across town.
Abbi Ross is the town’s reporter for the Southwest Times Record. She can be reached at aross @ swtimes or on Twitter at @__AbbiRoss