After a few months of inconvenience, citizens of the City of Minden will once again be able to pay their utility bills online. Jeff Ellenwood, Director of Information Services, has been working tirelessly these last few months getting the new systems ready to ensure that things run smoothly and securely when the service goes back online Oct 1.
Upon entering Ellenwood’s office, one would see the tip of a head barely peeking out behind a set of four monitors, all plastered with sticky notes to keep organized the various tasks necessary to get an entire online payment system up and running securely.
When asked about the services going back online, Ellenwood’s first response was to apologize and offer an explanation for why the services went down in the first place. “I know it’s been a pain, and I understand that. It wasn’t the transition that took our online payments down, it was our previous online payment system. It wasn’t secure anymore, and they made us take it down. I’m sorry, and I apologize to everybody for that. I feel really bad about it, and I tried everything I could to get it to where we could still do it,” said Ellenwood.
However, quickly after saying that, he went on to discuss what the services would be like once they go back online. “Our new system is going to be very nice, I think everyone will like it. You’re going to be able to make online payments, you’re going to be able to make phone payments,” said Ellenwood, “The new system is going to have three times the capabilities we’ve had with the old system. When people go online to make their payment, they’ll be able to see their bill right there online, and they’ll be able to see their previous bills online. They’ll be able to see their usage, previous payments, previous everything.”
He also spoke of future updates in the coming years that will expand what people will be able to do on the website. “They will be able to see their daily usage, hourly usage if they wanted to, on their phone,” said Ellenwood.
Citizens will have to register again with the new site to make online payments, and there will be a $3.50 service fee charged for each online payment. Also, credit card payments still won’t be accepted at the drive-through. “Credit card payments will be taken back at the windows, we can’t take credit cards at the drive-through. For the customer, we don’t want their card to come through the window and us to touch it they’re gonna take it, they’re gonna put it in the machine, for security reasons,” said Ellenwood.
Along with being able to pay bills online once again, the City of Minden will be receiving a few other online updates in the coming months. First is the new City website, which will contain all of the same information as the old one, but with a newer, more modern design. “I want it to look professional. The city is really putting their best foot forward to update their software. The website will develop over time, it will look different in some ways, but not a drastic change. I want it to look modern and easy to use. That’s my main goal,” said Will Gerding, Information Technology Specialist.
The City of Minden App is set to release in the near future as well. One of the more interesting features is one that will allow users to browse the local deals that businesses will advertise. “What I want to do is get the public notified that, hey, we have the opportunity for you to get some free advertisement through the app,” said Gerding.
If business owners wish to take advantage of this feature, all they have to do is fill out a form, which can be accessed from the City of Minden’s Facebook page. “Whenever the business signs up, at a later time they will be given a login. They can log in specifically for their business, and they can update it,” said Gerding. Essentially, businesses will be given an account that allows them to make updates on behalf of their own business.
Users can then see all the deals in town by simply scrolling. “You click on local deals, and it will show all the deals that are going around town, for all businesses,” said Gerding.