Danville to outsource utility bills

Published 1:00 pm Monday, April 4, 2022

The Danville City Commission approved a motion to outsource utility bills to Bluegrass Integrated Communications at its meeting on Monday.

Utilities Director Marshall Carrier said the city currently sends out around 11,500 utility bills a month. They come to people on blue index cards in the mail. Carrier explained they have had problems with those small cards getting stuck together and people receiving other people’s bills.

Bluegrass Integrated Communications will be able to send the bills on 8×11 pieces of paper in envelopes. The bills will provide more information like usage reports for previous months.

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Carrier said it will save the city $8,500 a year, and will be better for customers. City Manager Earl Coffey said they hope to integrate more technology in bill payments.

“We would like to see an online portal for customers to look at their own account and see information on minute by minute usage,” Coffey said. “We do have a lot of improvement we need to do technology-wise and we’re working on that.”

Carrier had also proposed the city modernize its map system for water maintenance. He said the department has mainly old paper maps, with some geospatial mapping, but not nearly the amount that they need in the modern time.

Carrier explained that if there’s a waterline break in the middle of the night, people have to rely on paper maps to find the break, or ask those in the department who have worked there for years to find where exactly the valves are. More geospatial maps will help newer employees be able to find valves easier.

“We will be able to provide more efficiency of service to customers, provide more real time data to customers as far as billing status and administratively in the office, be able to monitor meter functionality, needs for change-outs, water loss, and be able to better address geospatial locations for valves and hydrants,” Carrier said.

They will also partner with the fire department to utilize the maps. The commission approved funding for the project at $1,000 a month from April to June, then $2,000 a month until June 2023.

The city received word from the governor’s office that they received a $96,000 grant for the Stanford Avenue trail crossing they applied for last year. Danville will use the funds to make the crossing safer.

City Engineer Josh Morgan said it may be until next year that they can use the money, to allow for finalization of the grant. The city will match the grant with at least $24,000 in labor and materials.

After receiving negative feedback about the loss of parking spaces downtown for the upcoming streetscape project, Morgan said he is looking into solutions. He is working with CentreWorks to gather community input, which is a community-based nonprofit that, among other things, helps people define community problems and develop solutions.

Morgan said they want to know how citizens want parking to work downtown so they can make solutions that will work for everyone. Possible solutions include parking meters, a parking garage, or other ways to manage parking.

“We don’t have a strong opinion on how it’s supposed to function,” Coffey said. “What we hear is what the community says, which is, ‘we don’t like it,’ so the goal is to create some comprehensive solution that gives the city direction on what it needs to do, so we’re trying to listen.”

CentreWorks will work with interns over the summer to talk with people about parking. The commission approved funding for $15,000 for the interns.

In other business, the commission:
• Approved a proposal to buy a new streetsweeper.

• Approved a proposal to buy an asphalt hotbox.

• Made a proclamation for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

• Made a proclamation for National Fair Housing Month.