Two City Councilors sit behind a desk with a computer on it and a U.S. Flag behind them.
(Stew Dyer / Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Significant changes to the utility billing and collection ordinance are on the table for the Casper City Council. These proposed modifications aim to enhance the city’s ability to collect utility accounts and bring clarity to several billing and collection processes, according to a memo prepared for the City Council.

At the heart of the revision is a shift in accountability. Landlords will now bear responsibility for delinquent accounts if the city cannot procure funds from tenants.

This move is in response to data from the end of Fiscal Year 2023 which showed 2,877 accounts, amounting to $681,888, were placed with the Collections Center of Wyoming. The city incurs a 24% commission fee for each successful collection by this company.

Data reveal that tenants make up a more significant portion of unpaid balances, but owners are not far behind. In 2023, tenants owed 61% of the balance while owners owed 39%.

Under the new guidelines, a service application will be mandatory for every new account, which will extend the period the city can claim on an account and enhance the probability of collecting due amounts.

All new account holders will face a deposit requirement, which can be partially waived if they opt for automated bank draft payments. However, if the auto-payment is not maintained for a minimum of one year, the remaining deposit becomes due.

The proposed ordinance also tweaks sewer settings for new accounts, aligns sanitation service requirements with existing municipal codes and introduces a fee for paper bills. Customers can bypass this fee by opting for paperless billing.

Recent data underscores the growing expense of paper billing. From FY22 to FY23, printing and mailing costs saw a 12.8% rise, jumping from $188,000 to $212,000. Costs for FY24 are projected at $259,000.

Additionally, leak adjustment calculations will be modified for simplicity and equity. Criteria for payment arrangements will also be standardized.

The city believes that these ordinance alterations will not only streamline utility processes but also amplify the effectiveness of collections.

Due to ongoing and extensive renovations at City Hall, the City Council will meet in The Lyric, 230 W. Yellowstone Highway, at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public, but there is no scheduled time for public comment during a work session.

The livestream of the work session as well as the memo can be found below.

YouTube video