After a software error, the city of Dickinson might change the way it bills residents for drainage fees.
The city accidentally issued inflated drainage fee bills that had a voluntary donation of $24 for the Volunteer Fire Department and EMS included as a required charge. Residents are being asked to subtract $24 from the “Required Amount Due,” city officials said.
A fee is collected from most homes and businesses that use public drainage in Dickinson, city officials said.
A software error was the cause of the incorrect bill fees and the city might just add the drainage fee onto property tax bills instead of including it on the drainage bill, Assistant City Administrator Stephanie Russell said.
“We are going to try and get on with the property tax bill,” she said. “That’s ideally where I would like it to go. The annual bill has been something of a hassle for the city.”
The utility billing software, which cost $3,500, was installed just before the drainage fee incident, Russell said.
“This was our first time to actually run our bills in this new software system,” she said.
The city will keep the software, but is looking into other options, Russell said.
Software issues aside, the drainage fee is unnecessary and doesn’t reflect improvements in drainage, Dickinson resident Andrew Conway said.
“I don’t feel like I’m getting any value from those fees,” Conway said. “I’ve never seen the city do any work on the drainage ditches on my street. The city permitted a driveway to be placed at the back of my property without any ditch at all, causing water to be trapped between the driveway and house.”
The drainage fee is not a new bill introduced to residents and is important because it covers salary, equipment and other costs related to the drainage system, said Bryan Milward, a spokesman for the city.
“The drainage fee has been in existence since 2001,” Milward said. “Back then, the city contracted with the water district. Starting in 2015, the city started billing it in-house. It’s been going on since then.”
Residents who have questions about the drainage fee should call 281-337-2489, ext. 215.