At its Dec. 23 council meeting, Shelby Village voted to go back to using postcard water billing notices as opposed to the current two-page billing.
Village Clerk/Treasurer Crystal Budde said, “The full-page water billing includes preparing and printing a newsletter, but requires time and staff to match up past due/shut off notices with the current bill. Then the entire mailing goes through the folding, sealing and postage machines. It takes at least one full day, but more often a day and a half to get the mailing together and posted.”
Budde presented the current cost breakdown of supplies and postage for water billings as follows: A two-page billing costs the village approximately $552.52 monthly or $6,630.44 annually; A single postcard mailing would run the village $294.79 monthly or $3,537.48 annually.
Switching to a postcard mailing would save the village $3,092.96 annually. The cost breakdown did not include the day and a half of staff wages needed to prepare the monthly billing.
“Often residents will come in to pay their bill, open it and simply toss the newsletter without even reading it. I understand both Pentwater and Montague use postcard mailings. I’m recommending that instead of a two-page water billing each month, the village go to a simple postcard notice and post the newsletter at the village hall, on the village website and Facebook pages as well as other public locations around town. We would send residents with past due bills/shut off notices two postcards, but even in doing that, it would take less time than the way we are doing it now,” Budde said.
“When did we go to the full page mailing?” asked council member John Sutton.
“The village used to send postcards. The previous administration switched to the two-page mailing when there was some concern that people were not getting their bills in the mail and the village wanted to start sending out a newsletter to inform the residents of certain happenings. But not receiving a water bill has never been a valid excuse for not paying it,” said Budde.
Council member Dan Zaverl said, “I know a lot of people appreciate getting the newsletter in the mail.”
The council discussed different options that could be used for sharing village news with the community. One suggestion was to have a weather-proof box on the outside of the building where residents could pick up a newsletter. Another idea was to have a TV in the foyer by the window that people could look at from the sidewalk. The postcards have a space where brief notices can be included, such as leaf pick up or dumpster days.
“Sometimes the newsletters are redundant, we don’t always have enough new information to share each month. We might get more readership or notice if we did a press release or a video post only as needed,” said council member Andy Near.
“What about the folding machine that we pay $650 annually for?” asked council member Jim Wyns.
“That is used for our tax mailing, once a year,” said Budde.
“That’s a significant expense for something that is used only once a year,” said Wyns.
Council member Steve Crothers moved and council member Near supported the change from a two-page water billing to just a postcard starting with the January billing cycle. All voted in favor with the exception of council members Zaverl and Wyns who voted in opposition.