Tag Archives: Utilities

Reasons to Consider Outsourcing Your Utility Billing Printing


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 >

Posted in BMS Partners, 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

Summertime, and the (utility) billing’s easy…

English: Impact Sprinkler Mechanism Français :...Don’t you wish calculating and billing sewer usage charges was as easy as…turning a faucet?  With Black Mountain Software’s usage averaging features, it can be!

Many of our water and sewer customers bill more than a flat rate for sewer charges.  Since water usage is a metered and measurable number, many utilities calculate sewer usage by calculating the amount of sewer expected to flow based on the amount of water used.

In warmer months, customers water their lawns and gardens. During this time, water goes into the ground instead of the sewer system, so it’s unfair to charge for sewer based fully on water usage. Read more >

Posted in BMS Partners, BMS Tech Tips, Small Cities | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About…Water Meters

A typical water meter register showing a meter...

We recently came across an extensive article “Tech Brief – Water Meters” in the California Water Journal (Fall, 2013) that explained in great detail the cost, installation, and types of water meters.

Since so few of us have time to divulge in a six-page article, we thought we would break it down into a cliff-note version for all our water utility billing software customers out there.

What do water meters do?

  • Provides readings to determine usage to be billed
  • Allow water utilities to bill based on usage instead of flat rate billing
  • Monitor the volume of water put out by the utility
  • Help detect water leaks in the system

What types of water meters are there? Read more >

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

17 Cash Handling Procedures YOUR Utility or City Office Should Embrace

Money cash

When a clerk is handling cash or other receipts and finds him/herself wondering, “What is the right thing to do in this situation?” or “Are there specific rules for this?,” it’s a sure-fire sign that training and/or procedural documentation is lacking.

When it comes to properly handling receipts, creating and maintaining a list of procedures and requirements are key to keeping books balanced, regulations honored, and questions to a minimum. Your cash handling list should be kept close by for quick reference and should be updated and re-distributed as new situations arise.

Very detailed instructions on basic procedures should be outlined for taking receipts, making deposits, and handling special circumstances such as NSF checks. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Cost of impact fees: who pays for them and what they fund

We recently found a study done on impact fees: what they fund, what percentage is allocated where, and to whom the highest impact fees are imposed. We found it so interesting, we developed an infographic using the information to share with everyone here at the Clerk Cafe. Here are the results.

You may find it interesting to see what types of structures are charged the most, and what programs the fees contribute to.

What are impact fees?

Impact fees are fees imposed by local government on new or proposed development projects to pay for the cost of providing public services (water, sewer, gas, streets, sidewalks) to that development. Read more >

Posted in City Clerk Cafe, Small Cities | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

FAQ’s about Smart Meters and Why They are Leaving Some Concerned

Elster A3 ALPHA type A30 single-phase kWh smar...While many joke that utilities and government adapt to new technologies slower than most publicly-owned companies, one area where government and utilities seem to be advancing their technology quickly is by introducing smart meters and automated meter reading to their service territories.

The reason larger utilities have quickly adopted this technology is the perceived cost benefits, accuracy, and access to real-time information.  But smaller governments and utilities have sometimes hesitated to install these meters because of public perception.

What are smart meters?  Smart meters are electrical meters that record consumption of water, gas or energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicate that information at least daily back to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes. Read more >

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

3 Things Every Utility Billing Clerk Should Know–And Develop!

by Jennifer Carlson, BMS Installation Team Lead/Senior Support Specialist

Timeliness. Accuracy. Multi-tasking. If these three words weren’t outlined in the job description for your utility billing job, you will soon find out they should have been!

The complexity and performance demand required to be a good utility billing clerk is often overlooked and underplayed. Mostly–we’d like to think–because utility billing clerks make it look so easy! But if you are able to keep these three things in mind as you develop your skills and processes, you will establish yourself as a reliable, credible, and trustworthy asset to the utility billing world. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, City Clerk Cafe, Office Efficiency | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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