Frisco parts ways with sanitation district
FRISCO – The town council decided Thursday to discontinue sewer billing for the Frisco Sanitation District. Residents will now pay water and sewer charges separately.
For an annual fee, the town of Frisco has conducted the sanitation district’s billing and collection since 1991. The charges appeared on residents’ water bills already issued by the town.
The sanitation district is a separate governmental entity with its own elected board of directors. Frisco water service is a function of the town.
“It’s really been kind of a nightmare to do both,” town treasurer Sandy Jones said. “It’s really hard to keep up Frisco San’s books.”
According to Jones, the town doesn’t have the manpower to handle sewer billing on top of the existing water billing.
Recent vacancies in the town’s finance department have put the squeeze on Jones’ ability to conduct the dual billing.
“Our turnover is incredible,” she said. “It’s been a little frightening for me, because now I am the finance department. I want to be responsible for the town’s accounting and provide good, quality service to the citizens of Frisco.”
In this period of fiscal belt-tightening, Jones said she doubted the town council would approve hiring additional staff.
Norman Ringhand, Frisco Sanitation District board president, was displeased by the town’s decision.
“I’m terribly disappointed,” Ringhand said. “Government should make things easier on its citizens. Now, they’re going to have to write two different checks to two different entities.”
According to Jones, the town has struggled in the last few years just to complete quarterly water billing.
“The two billing systems are very different,” Jones said in a memo to the council. “The accounting system is having to do two separate calculations, causing some very real computer confusion and errors. The town is virtually responsible for collecting well over $1 million for the Frisco Sanitation District annually, for a fee that does not cover our actual costs.”
The town recently purchased new accounting software for 2004 water billing. Jones felt that the sanitation district should have shouldered part of the system’s $65,000 price tag, but the two parties could not reach an agreement, Jones said.
“From a certain standpoint, it makes sense to have both (water and sewer) on the same bill,” Councilmember Rick Amico said. “But let’s not take it in the shorts to make that happen.”
According to sanitation district manager Butch Green, the billing split won’t lead to higher sewer charges for customers.
“This will not mean a rate increase. We’ll have to buy software and set up a program, but we don’t intend to hire anybody. It’s not a blow to us in any way. The only real down side is that customers will have to write two checks instead of one.”
– Julie Sutor
Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at email@example.com.
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