Melissa issues release clarifying utility billing fees

staff reports
Residents can view their water consumption on an hour-by-hour basis. Based on that usage, the system will also calculate a projected bill.

Melissa issued a news release on June 10 to clarify the city's credit and debit card policies for utility billing. 

Officials want residents to know that people who pay via those methods will be charged a minimum $1 service charge. The maximum amount they can be charged is 2.8 percent of the total bill. This applies to credit and debit card payments made online, via the phone, and in person.

Those who pay on the phone or online will also be charged a $1.25 processing fee in addition to the credit/debit card convenience fees. 

City officials add that this practice is in line with “practically all retailers, merchants, companies and other types of organizations that use third-party payers.” According to them, the city has to do this in order to cover the costs that credit and debit card companies charge for convenience. 

“It has been an accepted standard practice for credit and debit card companies for some time,” Customer Relations Director Chris Thatcher says. “These companies charge a small fee for the convenience of using their respective card, and we have no recourse but to pass the charge along to the user. Residents who choose this method should be aware that the charge does not originate with Utility Billing, but with their credit and debit card companies.”  

Those who wish to avoid the fees can set up their utility account to draft payments from their bank. Payments may also be made by check and submitted in-person, at the City Hall drop box or by mail. Cash payments are also accepted in person.  Additionally, people who pay by credit or debit card in person will still be subject to the credit card processing fee but not the additional $1.25 processing fee. 

“We’re happy to work with our residents to find the right payment method for them,” Thatcher said. “We welcome calls to (972) 838-2035 or emails to to get the right system in place for each customer.”