FATHOM president returning for public forum
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A little more than two months after his last trip to Copperas Cove, Jason Bethke, the President and Chief Growth Officer for FATHOM Water Systems, will be paying another visit.
The City of Copperas Cove issued a press release on Wednesday announcing a public forum that the City’s Utilities Administration and FATHOM will host on Tuesday, November 28, starting at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 508 S. 2nd St.
“City staff and FATHOM representatives will provide customers with an overview and update on the project, followed by a Q&A session,” stated Kevin Keller, the city’s Public Information Officer. “At the conclusion of the meeting, customers will have an opportunity to meet with staff and representatives one-on-one to review and discuss personal account information.”
Bethke’s last visit to Copperas Cove in September was to provide the city council with an update on the meter installation and the transition of the billing process which the company took over from the city’s utility administration department as of April 1. During that September visit, Bethke agreed to meet one-on-one with customers regarding their individual account concerns.
Ahead of his upcoming November 28 visit, Bethke released a statement about what the company has been doing to work on the kinks, both technological and otherwise, that have plagued the billing transition for months.
“The partnership between Copperas Cove and FATHOM remains strong. Together, we have worked closely with customers to improve billing timeliness and enhance the customer service experience for residents,” said Jason Bethke, President and Chief Growth Officer for FATHOM.
“While there was confusion and a lack of clear communication surrounding some July and August bills received, we have strived to improve communication with customers. Approximately 98 percent of all Copperas Cove customers are now on a regular monthly billing cycle. The remaining 2 percent of customers that have not yet had a meter exchanged should be on a regular monthly billing cycle by the end of November 2017.
“Additionally, we have worked diligently to overcome initial hardware challenges presented by a few of the data collectors within the AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) Network Infrastructure and have partnered with City staff to ensure that Copperas Cove customers receive timely utility bills with a clear description of charges for the services being provided. We look forward to the continued delivery of smooth, reliable customer care to Copperas Cove residents for years to come.”
The city’s Utility Administration has been providing regular information updates to the city council which can be accessed on the city’s website. The updates include the status of work completed on several of the digital meter reading collectors, with a replacement collector being installed on Hughes Mountain on October 4, the replacement of solar panels and controls for the Turkey Creek collector, and the relocation of the Mountaintop North collector, with the intent to provide better connection to the Skyline Valley neighborhoods.
According to the most recent update of November 6, “the data collector units (DCU) at Hughes Mountain and Turkey Creek are now operational. The Mountain Top North and the original Hughes Mountain DCU will be returned for replacement. Neptune, the manufacturer of the DCUs and water meters, is issuing tracking numbers and FATHOM will return them.”
The information items also include information about billing cycles with dates, along with the number of accounts issued bills with each cycle and the percentage of accounts needing manual reading by city staff, which were only three in Cycle 5 as of November 6.
“As billing is caught up for all cycles, some customers are receiving multiple bills at one time. Accounts that receive multiple bills take additional time to complete due to the multiple transactions. This issue should end within the next two weeks as all cycles will have been billed and the month of November should result in monthly bills for customers moving forward.”
The city is also working to address the issue of space in the Utility Administration office at City Hall, with plans to expand the waiting area by moving an interior door.
“The interior work for City Hall, Suite A will begin in the coming weeks once the contractor is ready to proceed, with an estimated cost of $650,” said Keller. “The construction will open up the waiting area to allow more space for customers, as well as provide them with access to the restroom facility.”