City Water and Gas customers going online to pay bills

Published 12:14 am Sunday, January 15, 2012

Like the almost 10,000 customers on the City of Vicksburg’s utility system, Natalie Wilson gets a monthly bill.

But when she pays it, she heads for her personal computer, goes to the city’s website and does it online.

“I’ve been doing it for four months, it’s very convenient for me,” said Wilson, who coaches girls ninth-grade basketball at Warren Central High School. “I used to wait until it was close to the cutoff date and then go to the office and write a check and use gas to get there. I’ve got a young child in day care, so it’s been very good for me.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Since Vicksburg began online billing in mid-September, 774 of the city’s utilities customers have registered for the service. Wilson is one of 580 of those customers who pay online. Others, city IT director Billy Gordon said, use the service to look at monthly bills and billing history.

“When we began this, I thought we would be doing good to get 500 customers,” Gordon said. “I’ve been real pleased.”

From mid-September through Jan. 5, the city collected about $125,518 in online payments. The largest amount came in December, when the utility department received about $44,452 in payments.

Gordon said e-billing, where the customer’s bill is sent by e-mail, is the next step, and will be offered to the city’s online customers in the future.

E-billing, he said, will cut the city’s cost of mailing utility bills each month, adding it takes an employee in his office four hours to print, stuff and prepare the bills for mailing, “and we have five billing cycles a month.”

In December, Gordon said, the city sent 9,877 bills, costing $3,430 in postage.

Although it’s only been offered a short time, Gordon said online billing had been considered by city officials for the past six years.

“The previous administration and the present administration had been looking at online billing, because we were getting requests from our customers,” he said. The problem, he said, was whether the city could absorb the processing fees that usually are added to online transactions.

According to a Mississippi Attorney General’s opinion, Mayor Paul Winfield said, the customers must pay any costs accrued for the online transaction. Hence, the city charges $1 for each online payment.

Gordon said the transaction fee is paid to Transaction Warehouse of Phoenix, Ariz., which processes the credit card transactions for the city and ensures payments are credited to proper accounts.

Information about online billing and the city’s website are printed on the city’s utility bills.

Utility customers can register for online billing on the city’s website at, by clicking on the “billing center” square and entering their names, account numbers, e-mail addresses and setting up a passwords.

“We are very pleased with the system,” said Tammye Christmas, water and gas director. “It has helped us.”

She added, however, foot traffic at the Drummond Street office remains heavy.

“Some people just like to come in and pay,” she said.

“I think online payments will increase once more people find out about it,” she said.