Good news for tech-savvy customers of the Anderson County Water Authority: You can now pay your bills for water and sewer service on a website, rather than having to remit by mail or in person.
The online bill-pay option went live Dec. 1, according to authority Assistant Manager John Mitchell. The water utility uses a third-party service that provides for paying bills from internet-capable computers, tablets and smartphones.
“It went on our bills this month,” Mitchell said Monday. “We’ve gotten several payments so far. The first person to use it paid a bill of around $70.”
Customers can see the online payment information in the upper left quadrant on the face of their postcard-style water bills. A note there reads:
“Pay online at https://portals.icheckgateway.com/andersoncountywater.
At that site, users are given a choice of clicking on boxes to pay either by check or credit card.
But it also informs users that there are fees for the service: A flat $2.95 to pay by check, or a 3.5 percent charge based on the total amount of the bill, with a minimum of $2.95.
“Unfortunately, there is a fee, even if you use a check,” Mitchell said. “That’s the only thing I don’t like about it. We can’t absorb that fee because we’re a government agency.
“Slowly but surely I think people are going to catch on,” he said. “There have already been people using it, but we know some people never ever will. But at least now they have the option, so they don’t have to show up to pay the bill. People like the convenience, but they are going to have to pay for it.”
There still are ways to pay remotely without incurring a fee, however, Mitchell noted.
“People can sign up for recurring automatic payment drafts from their checking accounts,” he said. “And people whose banks offer online bill-pay services can use that to pay their water bills. That doesn’t cost any extra on our end.”
Mitchell said earlier that not having an online payment option was a frequent complaint from customers.
“It’s one of the biggest things our customers gripe about,” he said. “They say we need to get into the 21st century.”
Both the Clinton Utilities Board and Powell-Clinch Utility District have had online bill pay available for their customers for several years, and those payment portals can be accessed through each utility’s website. Customers also can pay their bills to those utilities by phone.
Customers of the Norris Water Commission also now have an online bill-pay service, which takes e-checks or credit cards for payment of water and sewer bills. That third-party service – called nexBillPay, is accessible through the Norris city website, and it also charges a convenience fee for the service.
The Anderson County Water Authority serves about 9,750 customers, including homes, businesses and industries, Mitchell said. The system has about 650 miles of water lines, and it has water plants that supply those lines at 1943 Oak Ridge Highway, Clinton, and 706 New Clear Branch Road, Rocky Top.