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City: Billing upgrade worked

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Elizabeth City's switch to a new utility billing system is causing some bills to go out behind schedule, so those customers will get an extension, city officials said Friday.

Officials also reported the utility billing conversion has otherwise gone well, and bills will go out on time after this week.

City Manager Rich Olson and Finance Director Suzanne Tungate both gave updates on the billing conversion in interviews on Friday. The city successfully switched its billing software from Logics Classic to Incode, a platform by Texas-based Tyler Technologies, on Monday night, they reported.

“It's gone a lot smoother than with Edmunds,” Olson said, referring to the billing software company involved in a failed conversion more than two years ago.

A few issues are still getting worked out, however. Tungate explained it took several days to transfer the last week-plus of payments from Logics to Incode. The changeover required the city to collect and record payments in Logics on June 3 through most of Monday, but then upload them into Tyler.

The payment upload finished Friday, and she said Incode now has all the data it needs to manage customers' accounts from here on out.

The delay in finishing uploads means that Cycle 1 bills are set to go out early next week, rather than the end of this week as Olson had hoped in comments Monday night. Bills for Cycle 1 are typically sent out around the 10th of the month and due on the 25th. With the delay, Tungate said those bills will be due on June 30 instead of June 25.

The next cycle of bills normally go out around the 17th and are due on the 2nd of the following month, so customers who typically see their bills then should get them and pay them as normal, she continued.

Olson and Tungate also said the city is still working to accept credit and debit card payments at its customer service offices. The city is still trying to get to the bottom of an odd issue with internet bandwidth that's causing payments to be declined, he explained.

Olson and Tungate also reported Tyler's online portal should launch next week. It will be available through a link on the city's website, www.cityofec.com. Customers will need to set up login information and then can manage their bills online, she said.

To keep things running smoothly, Tungate also said Tyler will have support staff in Elizabeth City for the next few weeks. Tungate also thanked customers for their patience as the switch happens. There were some lines at the satellite office on Griffin Street on Tuesday, but volume was fairly light.

“I don't know if everyone's staying away” while the upgrade happens, she joked.

Olson said the city expects lower customer volume this time of the month, which factored into officials choosing June 10 as the go-live date.

Tungate also confirmed that, as previously planned, bank drafts will resume for customers that use them. The city suspended both automatic payment and "levelized" billing to simplify the conversion. Tungate also confirmed levelized, or budget, billing customers may reapply for that program.

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