A new way of paying bills is parked at Ottawa City Hall.
Beginning June 30, customers were able to begin using the city’s new automated utility payment kiosk system on the west side of the City Hall parking lot, 101 S. Hickory St. The kiosk accepts payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a news release from the City of Ottawa said.
“This technology allows customers to walk up or pull alongside the kiosk in their vehicle, scan the bar code on their bill or type in their house number and last name to bring up their account balance,” Betty Simpson, assistant director of finance, said in the release. “The screen will provide payment options, including cash, credit card or check.”
Once a payment has been made, it immediately posts to the user’s account, Simpson said — an advantage to customers facing a late fee when City Hall is closed.
Though customers can continue to use the city’s existing drop box, they’re encouraged to try out the kiosk, Simpson said. She said staff anticipates the drop box will be removed later.
The idea first was brought to city commissioners in December 2014 by Simpson and a group — including Paul Sommer, Dave Hunsaker and Cody Luke — from the city’s Leadership Academy program, the release said. Participants were divided into teams and tasked with developing a solution to an issue facing the city, the release said.
After some discussion, commissioners approved the group’s proposed kiosk project.
“As a member of the leadership group, we are thankful to have the kiosk functioning as a payment option for our customers,” Simpson said this week. “A week into the system being up, I had a young man who was in the City Hall lobby after hours. It happened to be a due date for his bill. The customer used the kiosk to pay and was elated to save on a late fee.”
Scott Bird, director of finance, said he’s watched customers wait in line for many years and wished for automated payment system, but the technology wasn’t in place yet.
“This possibility came to our attention as a result of the Finance Department’s upgrade in financial software, and [it] provides more options than just credit card payments,” he said, noting that the kiosk will create some efficiencies within the department as well.
Bird said though some technical and logistical issues arose throughout the course of the project, the team didn’t give up. He said he’s pleased to see the project come to fruition.
“This is a fine example of how bringing leaders from around the city together can improve what the city does for the community,” he said. “It’s amazing how much the city is accomplishing throughout the community as a result of the leadership program.”
Anyone with questions about the new kiosk or utility billing can call (785) 229-3600.