Beginning May 1, Benton Electric System and the City of Benton will no longer accept combined checks for water, gas and electric service.
Previously customers could pay all three bills in one location as a courtesy to the customer. Moving forward, each payment must be paid at the place of service, online or via auto draft. Every department has the option for electronic payments.
“Even though we collect water payments as a courtesy to our customers, it’s become a hardship to get those funds to the appropriate department because we have so many of those payments coming in electronically. It’s becoming a real hardship and it’s not as efficient to try to get everyone’s payment where they need to go,” Leslie Taylor with Benton Electric said.
The system has a long term goal to utilize an automated meter system where customers can prepay for their electric in lieu of paying a meter deposit. It would be the customer’s responsibility to make sure there is enough electric in in their system.
Benton Electric now has a mobile app available to take payments. Eventually customers will be able to track their usage on the app.
Every department is in agreement the group payments has become a headache. Benton City Clerk Bethany Cooper said another issue is returned checks. Whichever department took the check is responsible if it is returned. If a cash drawer is ever over or under its balance, it is difficult to check receipts because they were paid at another department.
“It’s just hard bookkeeping when we are collecting payments from every department,” said Cooper, noting that it is difficult to get the cash in hand for electronic payments to transfer.
Council members were also in agreement. “It just isn’t reasonable. I wouldn’t want to deal with it either,” Councilwoman Sherra Riley said after the council approved the motion.
Prior to the discussion on payments, Mayor Rita Dotson was recognized as a Kentucky Colonel by Steve Moore. The commission of Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor given to someone by the governor of Kentucky for the individual’s accomplishments and community service.
In other news, Dotson announced there will be a public hearing on Monday, April 12, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to hear the final comprehensive land use plan update for the city. The comprehensive and strategic plan was drafted and put together by the Kentucky League of Cities. The hearing is an opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed goals and objectives.
The planning commission will consider adoption of the update at their next scheduled meeting immediately following the public hearing.
April 12 will also be spring clean-up day in the city. Residents need to have everything out by early morning. Large appliances and tires will not be accepted.
In other business, the council:
• Awarded the mowing bid for the 2021 season to Mac’s Lawn Service for $330 per week.
• Heard second readings and approved three ordinances. Two were for zoning changes at CVS Pharmacy from an I1 and I2 to a C2, and 815 Birch Street from C2 to R3. The third was amending water and sewer service charges.
• Approved the re-appointment of John Solomon to the Benton Housing Authority.
• Approved the minutes from the Feb. 15 regular meeting, the Feb. 22 Southwest One workshop with county leaders, the Feb. 23 small business grant workshop and the March 5 special called meeting.
• Heard the monthly police report. For the month of February, the Benton Police Department opened 11 cases, issued 16 citations including six for traffic and 10 for criminal, and responded to 656 calls for service.