MELISSA - Melissa residents can expect a return to normal procedures at the utility billing department. But be warned: That includes the return of late fees and service disconnections when warranted.


Last November FATHOM, the city’s third-party billing and processing company, unexpectedly collapsed. This left city officials the unenviable task of manually processing nearly 5,000 accounts.


Over the next several months, the city implemented stopgap measures to manage the task until suitable solutions could be developed.


With the help of an area consultant, the city was able to assume control of the billing and payment process through the implementation of a new system. However, this was not an easy task.


Over the past five months, city staff worked relentlessly to develop innovative workarounds while also correcting errors created by the now defunct FATHOM.


Among the areas they focused on were getting meter readings coded properly, assigning them to the proper accounts and ensuring that customers ultimately received accurate bills.


The amount of time required to do this meant that late payment penalties and service disconnections for non-payment were temporarily suspended. The city simply didn’t have enough manpower to process these cases.


Now that the permanent processing solution has been implemented, these penalties will resume with the next billing cycle.


Bills are currently being sent out via mail and email. The next payment due date is June 17.


Customers who have not already done so may now set up their new online account at municipalonlinepayments.com/melissatx. Bills can also be paid at this site.


Other payment options include paying in person at City Hall during normal business hours via credit card, debit card, check or cash. Debit and credit card payments can also be made on the interactive voice response system at 866-261-7377.


Those who use a bill-pay feature from their financial institution may continue to do so. However, in order to avoid delays, they will need to update their billing account number.


Checks made out to the City of Melissa may be left in the City Hall drop box or mailed to the City of Melissa, Bank Lock Box DEPT #531, P.O. Box 3689, Sugarland, TX 77487.


Account holders who are having difficulty paying their bills are advised to consult with utility billing staff to discuss alternative payment arrangements.