Tag Archives: Utility Billing

Reasons to Consider Outsourcing Your Utility Billing Printing

print-mail-statements-invoices-mailing

BMS and BDS: they kind of sound the same, and they work really well in conjunction. Black Mountain Software (BMS) has searched long and hard for a billing partner that could meet the specific needs of the utilities we service, and we found that trusted, reliable partner in Billing Document Services (or BDS).

After years of working with US cities and entities on their utility billing, we know one thing for sure: many are short on time, money, and manpower. Outsourcing with quality companies like BDS will reduce this hardship. And because they are a BMS partner, their processes interface seamlessly and efficiently with our software. Read more >

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The Dreaded Rate Increase – How Can Your Team Better Deal With Customer Fallout?

As the two most dreaded words for a utility billing professional, “rate increase” stands as a polarizing and frustrating situation for both the customers and the front-line city workers. With the changing economy, our cities, towns, and municipalities face the struggle to provide the most affordable services to the public, while also maintaining the best equipment, standards and practices. However, we also must realize that, despite economic recovery, many of our customers still feel misplaced resentment toward any entity that they perceive as adding to the conundrum of their rapidly decreasing take-home pay. While rate increases are inevitable for long-term service quality, your team also needs an action plan to best address customer concerns and frustrations. Read more >

Posted in Small Cities, Uncategorized, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All About: Utility Security Deposits and Credit Policies

Whenever town councils decide to take a fresh look at policies they have in place, one of the things they might look at is utility receivables. Upon closer look, if utility receivables are inflated due to security deposits on accounts, a revamp of security deposit requirements may be considered. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) along with various state agencies set specific guidelines for utility billing operations, including the management of security deposits. Remember to research these guidelines prior to making final decisions regarding changes to security deposit policies.

Ways to Protect Loss of Receivables in Utility Billing

Require a Security Deposit, and/or Letter of Guarantee. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Office Efficiency, Uncategorized, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

High Water Bill Have Your Customer Down?

water-bill copyIf you have the job title of Utility Billing Clerk, you have received – probably too many times to count – a phone call or visit from a customer about a “high” water bill. Usually, the causes of a water bill that reflects significant charges are beyond your control. But your response to the customer can be constructive and informative, helping get to the root of the water bill problem.

First, evaluate common causes of a high water bills:
• A leak that was concealed underground or behind a wall
• Victim to an act of vandalism
• An overestimated current reading or underestimated prior reading
• An incorrect meter reading
• Recent additions such as adding or filling a swimming pool or hot tub
• Addition of, or increase to, landscape and irrigation
• Increase of number of people or guests in the household

How to Mitigate the High Water Bill

If filling a pool was the issue, the customer may qualify to receive a partial credit on their sewer bill if their water account includes sewer billing. Read more >

Posted in BMS Partners, City Clerk Cafe, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

All About: Billing Calendars

calendar-27077_640 copyWhen it comes to paydays and money availability, there is no such thing as a “typical” utility customer. Some customers receive their entire month’s income all at one time. Some are paid weekly. Others may rely on regular, but random paydays throughout the month. The best a utility can do is time bills consistently so the customer can anticipate, and budget, for their billings. Customers appreciate their services being reliable, and on a reliable billing schedule.

30-Day Billing Cycle

In one of the Black Mountain Software mini-training sessions, we review our recommended Utility Billing Calendar for folks who bill monthly. The best-case scenario for a utility biller is a system based on an end-of-month billing cycle. Read more >

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Just Released: Section Reporting Question Nixed if it Doesn’t Apply

Opening and closing question marksHow can we make the lives of utility billing clerks a little easier? This is the question that runs through our minds on the daily. Sometimes, it’s not about making something new, but rather, making something that already exists work a little better. This was the case with one little section reporting question in our Utility Billing program…

Since the beginning of time (okay, really just since Version 2.0130 in the late 1990’s), BMS Utility Billing software has had a screen that requires clerks to answer yes or no (“Would you like to select a section?”) before proceeding with their report run. Read more >

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New BMS Cloud Platform Comes With New Enhancements

Cloud ScreenshotAt Black Mountain Software, we strive to provide our cloud-hosted government accounting and utility billing clients with the best available working environment that we can.

With the arrival of 2014, it became time for us to retire our local servers that host our clients’ data and begin moving clients to our newest cloud platform. Our newest platform includes greater up-time and performance and the clients we are hosting on it couldn’t be happier.

General software usage on the new platform will not change, but there will be some slight differences with this newer platform that we would like to introduce you to:

The BMS Dashboard – The biggest change with the new platform is that clients now have a single shortcut that opens a ‘dashboard’ from which they access all of their BMS applications and receive helpful newsfeed items. Read more >

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Utility Billing Software Enhancements: Autopay, Email, and Paperless Billing

English: email envelopeAny more, few of us remember the days of typewriters, carbon paper, and hand-written bills. As we continue to embrace technology, even those who grew up in the days of massive paper files can find ways to execute their very own Paper Reduction Act.

Monthly billings don’t come without mixed feelings at the offices of most Black Mountain Software Utility Billing clients. It’s what they do, and it makes their world turn, but it can be so much work with most municipal utility billing systems: print the bills, sort the bills, and stuff them in envelopes. Then there’s the postage and the post office, and their job doesn’t stop there! Read more >

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10 Things Every City Clerk Should Know How to Do

Government Building

Did you know that only 8 percent of people follow through on their New Year’s Resolutions? Most have already faltered by today’s date.

We feel, however, that it’s never too late to start anew and make goals for the year. That’s why we decided to compile of list of useful advice for city clerks and utility billing clerks, inspired by conversations and comments made by the hardworking municipal clerks that we network with all year long. Check out the list below and decide where you are really making strides, and where you could do better. Start today and make your own resolution to be the best you can be in 2014! Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Partners, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Basic Cash Handling Principles and Procedures for Utility Providers

Cash

“Am I doing this right?”

“I know we’ve ‘always done it this way’ but why?”

These are the questions that run through the minds of cashiers and cash handlers in a utility company.  And that’s ok!  Why? Because there are answers to these questions!

Though policies may differ slightly between organizations, there are some general and specific cash handling procedures that can be implemented to improve – or maybe even explain – your cash handling processes. These basic principles for proper management of receipts fall into five areas: 1) establishing responsibility, 2) segregating duties, 3) restricting access, 4) independent verification, and 5) document procedures. Read more >

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