?If a customer wants to sign up, that?s fine,? he said. ?If a customer doesn?t want to have anything to do with it, that?s fine too. It?s not one of those things where we?re going to force people. We?re just creating an electronic option.?
Paine said he hasn?t targeted a goal for customer participation.
?It?s already going to be worthwhile if we get five or 10 people,? he said. ?It?s something that will be easy for us to do. The package that we added to the utility billing basically cost us $1,000. That?s spent. So if we get people to go in and use it, it?s great. From this point on there really is no procedural change.?
Sending bills by e-mail will save the city some postage expense, but Paine said he will be happy if that savings simply covers the increase in credit-card fees the city will experience once online payment begins.
Because the billing procedure remains essentially the same in the office, the only other possible benefit to the city would be handling fewer bills manually.
?We?ll have fewer pieces of paper to process, and that?s a good thing,? Paine said. ?When we don?t touch the paper as much, there?s not as much likelihood for an error?although I don?t know that we have any errors in sending out bills because we primarily use a window envelope.?
Paine said some cities in Kansas have been using e-mail billing and online payment for as long as 10 years already.
?We?re riding the wave, we?re not on the leading edge,? Paine said. ?We have waited long enough to see what some of the other people?s mistakes are, so we?re basically working with a system that is pretty well routine. We know how it?s going to work.?
Once online payment begins later this summer, Paine said he sees the option being expanded in the future to include other city charges, such as recreation fees and traffic fines.
?Little by little, you keep adding on to it,? he said. ?It?s one more way for us to make things we do more convenient for our customers.?