By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – The way village residents are billed for water services will change next year.
Ashwaubenon Finance Director Greg Wenholz reported Tuesday, Oct. 23, to the village board that the change will permanently move all collection activity and some other activities to the Green Bay Water Utility.
GBWU already handles other billing and receipting for all other municipalities that use Green Bay Water.
The change will result in the village no longer accepting utility 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 have the ability to reshuffle some duties within internally with different personnel,” he said. “At the end of the day, (the number of personnel is down a full-time equivalent of .5) with things moved around.”
Wenholz noted the current billing 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, and once the bills are generated, both the village and GBWU accept payments.
“(Under the change), when you get the bill in the mail, no longer will you come to the village, or mail it to the village,” he said. “You simply mail it to the Green Bay Water Utility. We think it just makes lot of sense. They have the ability to take that on.”
However, Wenholz said the village would still maintain services such as responding to customer service calls.
For the GBWU to be able to process all of Ashwaubenon’s billing, Wenholz said the village’s customer will be divided into three quarterly groups that would still be billed quarterly, but at different months of the year.
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.
“It’s a disruption of billing services for basically one, first quarter, if you will, and then everybody would continue to be billed quarterly,” he said. “That allows then, from a staff perspective, to not have major fluctuations of (being) super-busy one month and then kind of lag off for two months.”
Though not everyone in the village will be getting billed at the same time, Wenholz said it would still be possible to do mailings to utility customers.
He noted it will be determined before the start of next year how to divide the customers into thirds and let them know how the new billing will work.
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.
Village Manager Allison Swanson said the affect on personnel with the Green Bay Water Utility handing the billing would result in a shifting in job duties within three different locations with the related FTE going from 2.5 to 2.
“What we’re saying is the impact to the general fund budget remains the same,” Swanson said. “But there is a reduction in FTEs, overall, in terms of people here at the village.”