By Karolyn Gephart
Pearland City Council met March 2 for its regular meeting at City Hall.
The evening’s agenda had Council members focus on deciding on a path forward to resolve the problems in utility billing in the city.
Information was presented to Council at the regular City Council meeting February 24 and at a Special City Council meeting on February 17, 2020 to discuss the delay in billing of City of Pearland Utility Bills.
At both meetings discussion was held regarding the billing delay, how it occurred, and options to correct the matter. The City of Pearland’s Utility Billing division issues over 38,000 bills monthly and accepts and processes payments for water, sewer, and garbage services provided to city residents.
In the early part of fiscal year 2018, the City received complaints from utility customers expressing concerns about fluctuations in the number of days billed. In July the billing cycle was changed to reading once every 28 days.
The billing cycle however, continued to be completed monthly, as it had historically, in order to maintain continuity in how/when bills were sent to customers, with the intent to avoid billing twice in the same month and 13 bills per year.
The City is now billing up to two months after the actual meter reads because billing has been completed monthly but reads have been completed on average, every 28 days.
Staff emphasized at the earlier meetings and at the Council meeting March 2 that no customer has been doubled billed and/or missed any bills. The billing for consumption is lagging behind the actual meter reads. No money was lost and customers will not pay more because of this delay in billing.
Council unanimously chose Option B – 32/30 plan which extends the current read cycle from 28 days on average to 32 days on average and reduces the billing schedule from monthly to every 30 days thus gradually reducing the distance between meter reading and billing over time. This approach would cause minimal impact to customers and only a shift in scheduling on the staff side.