If all flows well, the City of Great Bend will roll out an online payment system for water and sewer bills on Monday, July 1. But, there are still some kinks to work out, said City Clerk Shawna Schafer.
“This feature will allow customers to do more than pay bills online,” she said. It will it also brings detailed account information that customers can access over the internet at any time; view current balances, last payment date, payment amount, amount past due, deposits on file, graphs detailing consumption history; and generate a transaction history.
Customers will access the system via a link on the city’s website (greatbendks.net). They will be guided through entering basic information, such as an account number.
As a security question, customers will have to enter their most recent bill amount, she said. For added safety, credit card numbers will not be saved and have to be re-entered each time.
For the time being, there will be no surcharge for paying online since the cost for handling credit cards is minimal for now. However, if use picks up and costs increase, “we may revisit it in a year or two,” Schafer said.
For now, customers will also continue to receive a paper statement in the mail each month.
The online payments are something Schafer has had in mind for some time, it just took the city’s recent information technology upgrades to make them feasible. Shafer and Network Administrator James Cell have been working in earnest on this since mid April, and have gotten input from other cities offering this service.
The system integrates Great Bend’s current software provider and a compatible third-party vendor for the credit card processing.
And, there’s the rub, Schafer said.
“I’m hoping this will be available July 1,” she said. But, “the credit card vendor has not been very responsive to our emails.”
With training for city staff coming up this week or next, they had hoped to have a dry run before going live. And, as of now, there are still questions to be answered.
In the meantime, she said they are shooting for their deadline and will keep the public notified of the progress.