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Gainesville water customers getting bills late; city adjusts due dates

Apr. 2—Some Gainesville city water customers aren't getting their monthly bills on time in the regular mail. A few are worried that they'll be shut off because they didn't get said bill in time to pay it.

The Register learned about the problem from readers who asked to remain anonymous. They don't use automatic bank drafts or credit cards to pay bills online; rather, they wait for bills to come in the mail and post checks to providers. The problem recently has been that they don't see the bills in the mail and, because they don't access their accounts online, they don't know their due dates. Some people will go to Gainesville City Hall to inquire about balances and make payments, but some still rely on the U.S. mail to pay their bills.

City Manager Barry Sullivan said city officials have worked with the Gainesville post office and DataProse, the city's mail contractor, for several months to find a solution.

"The city emails the bills to the contractor and the contractor prints and delivers mail to Coppell distribution center," Sullivan told the Register. "The city receives confirmation of the bill batches being received and when the bills are delivered to the Postal Service. The printing and delivery processes generally take one business day."

The problem is that it has been taking up to nine days to get the city's water bills from Coppell — a north Dallas suburb that is just a 45-minute drive from Gainesville — to the local post office for delivery.

Carol Hunt, a USPS spokeswoman in Plano, said the Gainesville post office is aware of the problem.

"The Postal Service values the important role it plays in the community and is committed to providing the best service possible. We apologize for any inconvenience that may have been experienced by customers in the Gainesville community," Hunt stated in an email to the Register. "As explanation, monthly utility bills for Gainesville residents are transported and processed (sorted) at the North Texas Processing & Distribution Center in Coppell, and then transported back to the Gainesville P.O. for delivery.

"Local management is aware of concerns with timely delivery of the utility bills and is working with their mail processing partners to resolve the issue. We want to assure our customers that we are working diligently to resolve their concerns and thank them for their patience as we work to satisfactorily address this matter."

Sullivan said the city has adjusted billing practices to compensate for the problem, including extending due dates by 10 days and encouraging customers to either use the drive-through window behind City Hall (at Rusk and Main streets) or signup for email notifications and online payment.

Customers can also check their bills and make payments at https://gainesville.tx.us/161/Payments.