Payment options limited during computer transition

Customer options for paying Tacoma utility bills will be cut back for three days while Tacoma Public Utilities and the city implement new computer and business systems. All nine PayStations and the Service+ automated telephone payment system will be shut down Friday, Oct. 24 through Sunday, Oct. 26.

During this time, Public Utilities will temporarily re-open its payment drop box in front of the Public Utilities Administration Building for those who can pay by check or money order. Customers should not put cash in the drop box.
Tacoma Public Utilities’ Customer Service Office and Electrical Inspection Office will be closed Monday, Nov. 3, to both telephone and walk-in businesses. All other areas of Tacoma Public Utilities will be open for business as usual.

Signs will be posted at all PayStations and at the Public Utilities Administration Building notifying customers of the temporary closures.
Customers can continue to mail their bill payments by check in the envelope included with the bill.

Public Utilities has modified its collection schedule for delinquent bills so that no service cuts for non-payment will be made on Nov 3.

“We recognize that these closures will cause inconvenience for some of our customers. Unfortunately, they are necessary so we can make the transition to our new information system,” said Bill Schatz, customer service manager. “Employees will be working around the clock during that last week before we go live with the new system. When we open for business no Nov. 4, we’ll be using our new customer information system.”

From Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, customer transactions, such as payments and service changes, will be recorded on paper.

Schatz estimated that some 30,000 transactions recorded during the week will have entered into the new system.

Tacoma Public Utilities maintains billing and payment records for 156,000 Tacoma Power customers; 93,000 Tacoma Water customers; 57,000 Public Works Department solid waste customers; 59,000 Public Works wastewater customers; and 66,000 Public Works surface water customers.

“Employees have spent hundreds of hours training on the new system, but introducing any new computer system will result in a few bumps as employees become more familiar with the new system and its features,” Schatz said. “We ask our customers’ patience while we make the transition.”

The Business Systems Improvement Project (BSIP) is a $50 million software project to replace the city’s aging financial management, human resources, work management and customer information systems.