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Notes from City Hall

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 E-Check, credit fee talks renewed with new billing software

Now that new billing software has been installed at the city, city council has to determine how it would like to proceed with e-check and credit card convenience fees. 

During council’s April 8 study session, Finance Director Dan Frelund told council the city incurred about $60,000 in credit card fees in 2013. Frelund explained the city hasn’t been able to allow businesses to pay sales tax online because the city didn’t have the software.

“Now with our new software system we’re looking at for implementing the ability for businesses to pay for their licensing fee and sales tax returns online,” he said. “Once we open that up, then they can actually pay it online as well and that’s when the credit card fees kick in for those, which we don’t have a budget for that at all.”

Council will consider charging a 95-cent convenience fee for utility payments and a 2.9 percent convenience fee for sales tax at a future council meeting. Implementing the fees will help the city recoup the money it currently pays to cover the fees of residents and businesses who pay by e-checks or credit card.

City looks to hire firm to handle investments

City officials are looking to get a better return on the city’s investments.

During council’s April 8 meeting, Finance Director Dan Frelund explained they typically would place the investments and let them sit until maturity, but he believes the city has more to gain by actively managing the investments and possibly hiring a professional firm.

“We believe we can get a much better yield than what we’re able to get right now, even after paying their fees for them,” he said. 

 

Council set to approve rate, fee study for water, other utilities

City council will consider awarding a contract for a comprehensive rate and fee study for utility services during its April 15 council meeting. Representatives from the utilities department will be recommending council accept the proposal of Willdan Financial Services and award the contract to them for $58,000. 

Water Resource Engineer Sarah Borgers said the study is a follow-up to the utilities business plan that council approved last year.

“One of the goals of the business plan is to ensure that the department is financially viable; that our operations are suitable in terms of what we’re spending versus what we’re getting in rates,” she said. “So there’s a lot of pieces we’re going to be looking at in terms of both expenditures and how to fairly structure the rates for our customers.”

A budget appropriation in the amount of $63,800 would also be needed for the utilities rate and fee study to move forward. The study is a planned expense factored into the city’s 2014 budget. 

Council will also take a look at implementing a Watersmart program to help residents conserve water and conduct public hearings that would add the former Brighton Senior Center as a historic landmark to the local register, allow a special use permit for an e-cigarette business and allow a new childcare facility to operate on the First Presbyterian Church property.