Upper Arlington News

City's challenge to 'Beat the Bill' falls short


A new, online billing program Upper Arlington officials hoped would cut down on the city's printing and postage costs will be discontinued after few chose to "Beat the Bill."

Less than 100 of Upper Arlington's roughly 14,000 households answered city officials' call to pay their 2014 annual utility bill online before invoices were sent by mail.

"We only had 87 residents choose to pay online early for the stormwater and solid waste utility bill," said Emma Speight, Upper Arlington community affairs coordinator. "Based on the response and the behind-the-scenes work required to set this up, we don't plan to repeat it next year.

"This is the only routine bill that the city has. We thought it was worth a try, but on getting into the details of how to do it, we realized that the effort outweighs any benefit gained."

The Upper Arlington Finance and Administrative Services Department last month announced its Beat the Bill challenge via the city's website and social media.

The effort called for residents to pay their annual city utility bill online prior to Feb. 7, which would allow them to bypass the normal process of mailing a check to the city.

Upper Arlington officials also hoped the program would cut down on the city's costs to print and mail the bills.

"The idea was raised that we might want to look at moving away from a mailed invoice to save on printing and postage, and we decided to try it," Speight said. "The return was low and we found the process to be more complicated to set up than we had originally hoped.

"As a first-time effort, we didn't have any real idea how well it would work. The staff time required to set this up would have far exceeded any savings in postage and printing, which is nominal at 87 early payments."

Although the program wasn't as successful as city officials hoped, Upper Arlington will still allow residents to pay their utility bills online via the city's website at uaoh.net.