Postal rates on the rise

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 8:57 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Most Americans don’t use nearly as many postage stamps as they did 20 years ago. Email and the internet have reduced the volume the United States Postal Service handles. Monday, the post office announced another rate increase, and while it might not impact many individuals, agencies and businesses that still rely on bulk mail will feel the impact.

This office of only four workers processes 25,000 pieces of mail every month for the Bismarck Water Department.

”The two billers I have on staff are phenomenal at their jobs. They do a really good job as far as keeping to schedules, auditing, those types of things,” said Sarah Berner, customer service lead at Bismarck Public Works.

The water department outsources the physical aspects of billing, but all the input is generated in Bismarck.

Calculating water rates and usage isn’t the only thing this small staff handles.

Thanks to water analytic software, water usage is monitored daily. If employees see continuous or high usage, they alert the customer. In one particular instance, a resident was away for the holidays and an employee noticed a high volume of continuous water usage and addressed the problem.

”Our field staff got to the residence and there was a frozen waterfall at the back of the house, and so, we got the water shut off and got a hold of the owners,” said Berner.

No matter how high postal rates go, utility billing isn’t going away in the foreseeable future.

”People like to see that piece of paper. They like to file it away; they like it to say, ‘This month I had this, and this month I had that, and what’s the difference.’ They like that visual,” said Bernadette Houser, customer service manager at Bismarck Public Works.

Billing statements are mailed out to residents in batches over the course of 10-day intervals. Mailing constantly increases because of population growth. In the past five years, approximately 7,000 new customers are receiving monthly utility bill mailings.

The water department reminds customers that there are two upcoming public meetings. One is Jan. 31 and the other is Feb. 1. Both are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.