News, Public Notice

Town ditches online payment company after delays, issues for customers

by Geoff Fox

Town officials unanimously approved moving away from the Velocity payment system on the town’s website in favor of taking online payments directly themselves.

The Velocity payment system was in place for residents to pay their water and sewer bills online.

“We’ve had nothing but trouble with this,” Mayor Tim Smith said last week.

On the town’s website, the “pay my bill” link leads to a login display as the option to pay bills online has already been removed from the site.

Smith said the payment system doesn’ t spell out “a whole lot” about their fees.

When the link to pay bills was active, it would have residents put in their information, and if they didn’t hit “preference,” it would tell them “access denied” and the resident wouldn’t be able to pay.

If the resident had clicked preferences, Smith said the system would take the payments but stayed stuck on the “processing” message.

This led people to think they had paid their bill, when in reality Velocity would take three to four days to process the payment.

There was no mention of the processing time on the site, the mayor said.

Smith gave the example of people making their payment online on a Friday when the payment was due, thinking the bill was paid, but that payment wouldn’t hit until Wednesday and their water had already been shut off.

People, he said, would complain the payment had been made, not knowing the payment was processing.

Town Manager Mike Faith said bills get sent out at the end of the quarter with 30 days to pay the bill. A minimal late fee is then added and customers are given another 30 days to pay.

Faith said the town gives a total of 60 days to pay the bill before service is shut off.

He likened paying the bill online on a Friday to that of writing a check and sending it out on Friday when the service is to be shut off on Monday.

“We can’t verify payment. We can’t turn water back on unless the money is in the account,” Faith said.

If the town can’t collect on their water and sewer bills, that reflects on the town and not being able to collect grant money.

Who will give the town money if they can’t collect their bills, Faith asked.

“That’s what it boils down to,” he said. “Not trying to be hard on everybody, but the infrastructure of the town depends to a degree on the fact that people got to pay their water bills on time.”

If residents sign up for online banking, Faith said they can go to their bank and have it hit the town’ s account right away and there would be no fees associated with the online payment. Faith noted Velocity had charged a fee for the payments.