By Karolyn Gephart
Pearland City Council members were presented an update on ongoing projects in Utility Billing, including progress made since the last Utility Billing discussion in April and a look ahead to future goals. The presentation was part of their regularly scheduled virtual Council meeting August 24, 2020.
According to information presented, during the last three months, the City has put in place a new leadership team in Utility Billing, hiring a Utility Billing Manager, Assistant Utility Billing Manager and Customer Service Supervisor, who have a combined 42 years of experience in municipal utility billing.
Under new leadership, staff are implementing new processes, a new structure and better communication, improving responsiveness to customer issues and working proactively to avoid future issues.
The new Utility Billing Manager has worked jointly with Finance staff and the City Manager’s Office to compile the Utility Billing Governance memorandum (5/29/2020), which has served as a guide for many of the projects and future priorities.
According to information presented to Council, new internal processes have been implemented to ensure customer concerns are processed effectively, with better cross-communication within divisions to provide quicker resolutions.
More checkpoints have been added to the billing process to ensure billing specialists are catching irregularities before bills are sent to customers. To ensure timeliness, bills are being mailed at least one working day in advance prior to the billing date.
New processes have also been introduced in the Finance Department to schedule major processes (like recurring credit card processing and payroll processing) to avoid overloading the system, which has led to previous billing issues in the past, staff reports.
A schedule and procedure have also been introduced to ensure that all billing transactions are posted by Finance before any bills are generated, avoiding incorrect bills going out.
Outdated policies and procedures have been changed where possible.
In other Council business, the Fiscal year 2021 Budget Discussion #3 took place.