Oak Lodge water, sewer moving to joint billing
Oak Lodge Water Services is planning a transition to joint billing during the months of January through March.
Historically, Oak Lodge ratepayers were charged for water, sewer and watershed protection on a two-month cycle, water one month by the Oak Lodge Water District, and sewer and watershed protection the next by the Oak Lodge Sanitary District.
The newly consolidated district is adjusting the timing of water billings so that all customers will be paying for water, sewer and watershed protection services on the same bill at the same time. Water district bills were selected to shift because they are usually lower cost.
OLWS General Manager Sarah Jo Chaplen said that the joint billings will be fulfilling a promise made to local voters, who in May 2016 passed ballot measures to consolidate local water and sewer services. Joint billing is expected to lead to more efficiency through the use of a joint payment system, and by reducing printing and mailing costs of bills.
In the meantime, OLWS officials wouldn't blame you if you're a little confused by the way in which the billing systems are being consolidated. Because it would cost more for meter readers to cover the entire district each month, the billing cycles are split between north and south ends of the district. With two different alternate billing cycles going to two different joint billing cycles, there's an admittedly complicated matrix for getting there, and OLWS officials have released graphic timelines to help customers understand.
The idea is to get customers on the southern end of the district to receive a bill the first of May (and every other month from that point on) for two months of water usage and two months of sewer and watershed protection services. Northern customers will receive their joint bill every other month starting April 1.
To get there, southern customers won't receive a bill from the district in February, and northern customers won't receive a bill in March. Southern customers will receive a sewer bill March 1 for two months of service, as they normally would, but that bill will also include water service charges for three months.
Commercial and industrial customers, who are currently billed monthly for water service and bi-monthly for sewer and watershed protection services, will be billed monthly for all services starting in April. Large customers on the north end of the district who would not normally receive a bill until April will receive a joint bill on March 1. Those large customers on the south end who normally would receive a two-month bill on March 1 for sewer and watershed protection services will be billed for water service and two months of sewer and watershed protection services.