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Monthly water, sewer bills now available

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Portland utility customers can now receive their water, sewer and stormwater management fee bills every month in the mail instead of every three months.

The city made the change because some people complain they have a hard time budgeting for the quarterly bills that have always been sent out. The city has been allowing customers to pay monthly online since October 2013, but found that is a barrier to some.

To request monthly instead of quarterly bills in the mail, go to www.portlandoregon.gov/utilitybill.

To discuss whether monthly statements are a good fit, call the Customer Service Center at 503-823-7770 or visit the Service Center in person at 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave. in Portland.

The city has already budgeted for the estimated $246,300 in additional printing, mailing and processing costs.

"This option will allow older adults who wish to pay on a monthly basis but don't have access to electronic billing and payment the ability to do so," said Barbara Bernstein, Interim Executive Director for Elders in Action. "Our clients have asked for this option for years."

"Paying for sewer, stormwater, and water services monthly can help Portlanders manage their expenses right now," said Janice Thompson, the Citizens' Utility Board's consumer advocate for Portland public utility customers. "This is an important option that CUB has been pushing for."

"As Commissioner in charge of the City's two public utilities, good customer service is one of my top priorities," said Commissioner Nick Fish. "By expanding the monthly billing option, we are making it easier for customers to plan and budget for their water, sewer and stormwater services."

According to the city, "Monthly statements are a great option, helping households manage their monthly budgets and understand how their sewer/stormwater/water charges fit into their monthly expenses. A monthly statement is different from a monthly bill. When a household chooses monthly statements, their meter continues to be read quarterly, but charges are invoiced monthly. Monthly meter reads, which are not currently available for residential customers, also have their benefits. An automated meter reading system could give hourly data, providing households with more frequent information and allowing them to control their usage and proactively identify household leaks. But upgrading to a new meter system would be expensive — approximately $40 million. In an effort to meet our customers' desire to pay monthly without incurring this cost, we developed this monthly statement option."