(ATLANTIC) AMU officials held a press conference at 3:00 this afternoon in regards to a response of a billing change at Wednesday night’s Atlantic City Council meeting.
Atlantic City Administrator Doug Harris told the City Council that AMU had proposed to raise the annual billing cost for the city from $3,700 to around $37,000 effective January 1st of this year. Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones wasn’t too happy about that, which caused quite a stir.
AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes says in the last several years, AMU has charged the city $.10 a bill per month to maintain their sewer accounts and billing processes. As most people can understand, $.10 doesn’t even cover a third of today’s postage. The services provided by AMU to the City of Atlantic include the labor costs of setting up and maintaining over 3,100 sewer accounts, processing new and final billing account adjustments each monthly, billing the monthly service, the collection of the accounts and the accounting for the funds billed and collected. In addition to the labor costs, there is the cost of the physical bills, envelopes, postage and printing costs.
The increase in the sewer billing rate from $.10 to $1.00 is based on the actual cost to AMU to service these accounts. AMU isn’t asking the city to cover the full third of the cost of billing the sewer services. However, in fairness to AMU’s customer, the Utility Board doesn’t feel that AMU should continue to build the full cost of the sewer billing into their electric and water rates.
There was a statement made that the rate adjustment is a result of AMU’s new billing system. AMU’s billing system had been in place for over 30 years and the cost of implementing the new billing system was made by offsetting cost savings. The maintenance of the new system is the same as it has been in the past. So, neither the recent AMU rate increase nor the increase in what AMU charges the city for processing their sewer billing is related to the new billing system.
Prior to suggesting the change, AMU checked with other municipal utilities of similar size to research how they are handling billing. Though no utility is the same, their proposed rate is more in line with how other utilities handle billing for their cities.
AMU would be happy to continue to process the sewer billing for the city, but if the city chooses to do it themselves that would be their choice.