Copperas Cove city council approves bid for more than $650,000 in street repairs

Approves transition to new utility billing and payment platform, all online payments to incur $1.25 fee

By BRITTANY FHOLER
Cove Leader-Press

The Copperas Cove City Council approved awarding a bid for more than $650,000 to Texas Materials Group, Inc. for the Winter Storm Roadway Repairs Project on Tuesday evening.
As a result of Winter Storm Uri earlier this year, a number of city streets were identified as “severely damaged and in need of substantial repair that exceeds in-house capability in terms of time, material and equipment,” according to the agenda packet. 
Public Works Director Scott Osburn shared that the city had assessed and identified 390 different areas in need of repair immediately following the storm. 
The streets include Big Divide Road, Constitution Drive, Colorado Drive, Freedom Lane, Ogletree Pass, and Skyline Drive consisting of more than 17,000 square yards of roadway repairs. 
The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation has assumed financial responsibility for the reconstruction project on Constitution Drive, which means any work associated with Constitution Drive will be removed from this project post-award via change order.
The Winter Storm Roadway Repairs Project will cost $651,761.05 and will be funded from the Street Maintenance Fund, which is funded with 1/8-cents of sales tax revenue.

All utility customers to be charged fee when paying online
The council also approved amending an agreement with Tyler Technologies to transition the Utility Administration Department’s customer portal to the Incode Utility Billing Online platform and to transition to Elavon/ETS payment processing. 
The city currently uses Watersmart for online access and payment options for customers to access their accounts. Paymentus is the city’s current payment processor that works behind the scenes of the Watersmart to process payments received online and via telephone.
Both were part of the Fathom platform, and were kept during the transition from Fathom back to the in-house utility department, because city staff believed that both Watersmart and Paymentus would provide the “most seamless transition” for the city’s customers because the customers were already using them through Fathom.
But, some of the problems with Watersmart and Paymentus is that neither is directly supported by Tyler Technology, and the customer portal is delayed from as little as 16 hours to as much as 72 hours depending on when the customer makes a payment. 
The transition and annual costs associated with the Tyler Technologies Incode customer portal is an estimated $41,504, with annual fees totaling $33,852 and one-time set-up fees of $7,652. 
“From a staff perspective, the benefits of moving to Tyler Technology are really that automation,” Osburn said. “For our customers, it’s automatic account information updates. From city staff’s perspective, it’s automatic CIS system updates so we can have real account time immediately to address our customers’ questions and service their accounts.”
But there’s a hitch to receiving those real-time updates. There’s a $1.25 fee for Tyler Technology plus a variable fee for ETS/Elavon per utility payment transaction. Some council members said they did not like that.
“I don’t necessarily like that there isn’t a no-fee option payment on this portal, but there are so many benefits on this portal versus the one that we had before, that I don’t think that that one feature would be a reason not to go with the Tyler Technology’s portal,” said Mayor Bradi Diaz. “There is just too many - the live information and all the other features that outweigh what we’re able to get out of the portals we have now.”
Councilmember Dianne Campbell added that it is a choice to use the portal to pay a utility bill. 
“I can still go down to pay my bill and not incur any additional expense,” Campbell said. “I can mail it, and I can go to the office and pay it. If I choose to use the portal, then I choose to pay the fee.”
The council also authorized the city manager to terminate the existing contracts with Paymentus and Watersmart upon approval of the agreement with Tyler Technology. 
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau also requested and received a reimbursement of $24,000 for the 2021 Rabbit Fest. This year’s Rabbit Fest had an estimated 29,562 attendees, with 276 total overnight stays generated, according to the presentation by former Chamber president Alicia Menard. There were 38 parade entries and approximately 2,187 carnival riders this year. The total revenue raised this year was $130,433, with expenses of $95,097, leaving a net revenue of $35,346. 
The net revenue is put in place to improve future tourism events and promotions for the city of Copperas Cove as well as operational costs for the Chamber and Visitors Bureau, according to Menard. 
The city recognized three employees for their years of service to the city during their workshop meeting. Firefighter II/Paramedic Michael Mazock Jr. was recognized for five years of service, as was Solid Waste Driver Thomas Johnson, while Sr. Library Assistant Anita Schultz was recognized for 20 years of service. Communication Operator/Jailer Trish Dodge was recognized upon her retirement after 25 years of service. 

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207