In response to customer requests, the City of Toledo's Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is now offering a voluntary, monthly budget program for the payment of utility bills.Toledo utility bills cover the cost of supplying water, disposal of water, storm water disposal and refuse pickup.
Letters are being mailed explaining the program. Each letter contains 12 monthly stubs to help customers voluntarily pay their utility bills on a monthly basis. All residential customers, who receive a utility bill directly from the City of Toledo, are eligible to participate.
"The Public Utilities Department has devised a way to help customers avoid the large utility bills that come in the mail every three months," said Mayor Mike Bell, "and to provide this service at no additional cost to consumers who have been asking for such a program for a very long time."
The program, as explained by DPU Director David E. Welch, allows customers to make a voluntary, monthly payment by mail or in person to DPU. The amount paid voluntarily during the first two months of a three-month billing period will be subtracted from the amount owed at the end of the quarter. Customers will continue to receive quarterly bills in the mail.
"One of the great things about this voluntary monthly program is that it's flexible. You can pay any amount you want during the first two months of a billing period," Welch said. "However," he cautioned, "customers must pay the amount of the quarterly bill they receive in the mail by the due date for their water, sewer and refuse services to remain current."
The DPU Director offered this program overview.
Customers will begin receiving letters shortly that will explain how the program operates and will include 12 monthly stubs.
Eight of the stubs indicate a suggested amount to be paid monthly during the first two months of the quarterly billing period, based on the customer's water usage during 2011.
The four remaining stubs remind customers to watch for their quarterly utility bill in the mail. This bill will reflect the total utility charges for the quarter just passed and will show the amount of monthly, voluntary payments the customer made in the period. The customer will be required to pay the final adjusted amount to keep service current.
"The one thing that hasn't changed "is the need to pay your utility bill in full at the end of every billing period. The amount you pay voluntarily during the first two months of the billing period is flexible. As long as the customer makes the payment shown on their bill at the end of the billing period, everything will be fine," Welch said.
The director also said customers are not required to participate in the program, nor is a stub required to accompany every voluntary payment. However, all voluntary payments should contain the customer's account number to ensure the payment is credited correctly.
According to Welch, "This is a completely voluntary program. Customers are not locked into the monthly program once they begin and can return to quarterly billing at any time without penalty and with no need to notify the department. The most important thing for customers to remember is that quarterly bills must be paid on time."
Welch said participants do not have to register to participate, nor do they have to call to sign up. "We're confident, once consumers use this program, they'll find it will help them greatly to manage their monthly budgets and avoid large quarterly utility bills," Mayor Bell said.
Customers also can call DPU's customer service with questions at 419-245-1800. Information concerning the program has been posted on the City's Web site.