City ponders change for utility billing cycle
Those utility bills may be coming due sooner if the city's billing cycle is adjusted in the spring.
The Baldwin City Council approved the move on first reading at Monday's meeting. Currently, utility bills are sent out on the 25th of the month and are due on the 10th. Under the new cycle, bills would be sent out on the 10th and due on the 25th.
"It used to take the meter reader three weeks to read all the meters," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman, noting that most meters are read by a radio system now. "That's been reduced to five days. Instead of waiting those three weeks to send out bills, bills would go out on the 25th."
The change won't be in place until May if the council approves it on second reading at its next meeting. For the initial month, Dingman and the council discussed ways to make it as painless as possible.
"Could we extend the grace period for the first month," said Council President Amy Cleavinger regarding the time before late fees would be charged.
"Waving late fees is possible," said Dingman.
Council Member Ted Brecheisen Jr., a member of the utility committee that came up with the plan, said adjustments would have to be made, but the city could benefit from the switch.
"People who only get paid once a month will have to change their budgeting," said Brecheisen. "The main reason for doing this is people moving out and leaving three months of bills, which can be pretty substantial."
May is usually the month when utility bills are lowest and that's why the council opted for making the change then.
The council also heard a report from Dave Hill, representing the Baldwin City Economic Development Committee.
"We've had our economic development group set up for a year now," said Hill, noting that it now has raised $25,000 to spark economic development. "The bottom line is I think we've done quite a bit in our first year."
In other business, the council:
¢ Unanimously approved an ordinance adopting the 2008 Comprehensive Plan for Baldwin City
¢ Unanimously approved an ordinance establishing a Transient Guest Tax.
In a related move in new business, the council approved a resolution regarding the use and administration of the guest tax, which is expected to raise $13,000 a year from people staying at motels and bed and breakfasts. An advisory board will be established to decide how the money is spent. It will consist of a representative of each of the lodging establishments and a member appointed by the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce.
"To my mind, this makes sense," said Council Member Tony Brown. "They are the ones that are generating this and they are the ones who know how this money should be spent."