City tech specialists are hoping to upgrade the city’s utility billing software, though many factors have made the process more difficult than originally anticipated.
PETERSBURG — The search for solutions to Petersburg’s utility billing issues continues.
With residents still experiencing inaccurate water billing, the city is desperately trying to find a way improve the billing process.
The city’s technology specialists, Gerrit VanVoorhees and Dileep Rajun, are currently spearheading the effort to obtain more effective billing software.
For reasons unclear, in the contract that the city signed with Johnson Controls in 2015 for new water meters, the software Johnson Controls provided did not match up with the software the city had. This major deficiency has been a driving force behind many of the billing problems.
The billing software is currently housed in an outdated BAI AS400 legacy system, which makes reading the data extremely difficult.
“The big understanding that we have is that the process and the systems which we are using need to be addressed,” said Rajun. “The technology right now does not track the analytics-type questions we need to answer.”
More current software would make analytics from each water customer (water usage, meter size, etc.) easier to access and read. More current software would also let officials more easily track the payment history of each customer.
Rajun and VanVoorhees are currently mulling over several options as to how to best replace the software, although the uncertainty with the water system makes the process tricky. The city planned on outsourcing the billing department to a private company, which would change the software needs.
“Until that is concluded, or we make that decision, it wouldn’t be prudent for us to search for anything else,” said Rajun.
The city did put out a Request For Proposal (RFP) for utility billing earlier in the summer, but…