The City of Manhattan has switched to a new online payment system.
With the flip of the calendar to the month of December, Manhattan switched to an online payment platform for sewer and water customers called Paymentus. Ron Fehr, city manager, talks about why they made the change.
“The old system that we had was no longer going to be supported after January 1st. The company that we had been doing business with to provide that service, will no longer support it,” he said.
Fehr adds that the roll out of the new system didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped, but he says this should be just a temporary in-between situation.
“We’re looking at replacing our mainframe system which will likely have its own system which will be much better,” he said.
No timeline was given for how long the city plans to use the temporary system.
The new system has new customers up in arms according to Mayor Wynn Butler, who was frank in his dislike for the change. Fehr explains that is largely due to the convenience fee applied to online payments using credit and debit cards.
“Historically the commission has been absorbing, the utility has been absorbing, the convenience fees for folks that use their credit card or debit card. In that discussion we elected not to do that in the future, and so if you pay with those credit cards, you’re going to be charged that convenience fee,” he said.
Butler says the system is a walking disaster right now and expresses his concerns with the fees.
“And they (the customers) are saying, well then we are going to start paying manually because we don’t want to pay $2.23 every month to do it, and the issue with that is, I’ve been trying to push paperless for years. Let’s go paperless, let’s do auto payment. This thing seems to be working 100% against us,” he said.
Butler says they need to really need to look at both the operation of the system and consider a cost benefit analysis for the convenience fees.
“Does it cost you more to manually process it? If people don’t want to pay $2.23 for the convenience of the credit card, what does it cost the city to process it if I ask for a paper bill, which you’ve got to mail to me, and then I write a check and drop it in the box behind city hall,” Butler adds. “How much does it cost for customer service to process that and how much time does it take? Are your customer service people spending more money handling water bills than they would if you did it automated?”
The system went into effect December 1. To learn more about the system or to create an account, visit cityofmhk.com/paymybill.