Committee backs changing Ashwaubenon’s water billing
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The way village residents are billed for water services would change next year under a recommendation backed Tuesday, Oct. 16, by the Ashwaubenon Finance and Personnel Committee.
Village Finance Director Greg Wenholz reported to the committee that the proposed change would permanently move all collection activity and some other activities to the Green Bay Water Utility.
GBWU already handles all billing and receipting for all other municipalities that use Green Bay Water. The change would result in the village no longer accepting utility payments.
Wenholz noted the current practice involves the village’s water, sewer and storm water utilities working with the GBWU to generate quarterly utility bills to all village residents and businesses.
Once the bills are generated, both the village and Green Bay Water Utility accept payments.
Wenholz said the reasons for making the change include a longtime village water utility billing/receipting clerk planning to retire at the beginning of 2019, and a new employee wouldn’t have to be trained to take over those services.
“We would then be able to take that extra time, which would be about 50 percent of that role, and then do a lot of other work than billing, whether that be assistance at the clerk’s office, reshuffling duties with other employees potentially to help (the) legal department and also help finance and building inspections,” he said.
However, Wenholz said the village would still maintain services such as responding to customer service calls.
“The (Green Bay) Water Utility, when they looked at what they are doing, they feel that they can take it on,” he said. “(The) City of De Pere, Wrightstown are some of the newer ones (that the water utility handles the billing services).”
Wenholz said the quarterly cost for the GBWU to handle the village’s billing services would be $10,000, which would be absorbed in the water utility budget.
For GBWU be able to process all of Ashwaubenon’s billing, Wenholz said those customers would be divided into three quarterly groups that would still be billed quarterly, but at different months of the year so that a third would be billed in January, April, July and October.
Another third would be billed in February, May, August and November, and the other third would be billed in March, June, September and December.
“The reason for that is it helps avoid a big spike in activity in one month, and then two months of not as much,” he said. “So then they have a nice even flow of activity.”
Wenholz said how to divide the village customers into three billing groups hasn’t been determined yet, though that would be communicated to them once that is achieved.
“For two-thirds of people, they’d have a disruption,” he said. “One-third would stay on the schedule they’re on…”
Wenholz noted the initial bills in 2019 would be for one, two of three months of service, depending upon how they are staggered, and then all the customers would be receiving quarterly bills.
“All in all, we think this is a move that makes a lot of sense,” he said. “From a processing standpoint, it creates a much more efficient process with billing. Overall, it eliminates a lot of phone calls to our area.”
Village Manager Allison Swanson said the net change in personnel with GBWU handing the billing would result in a reduction of a half-time position for the village.
The committee’s recommendation is being forwarded to the village board for final approval at its Oct. 23 meeting.