A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Billing fiasco: Albany thanks you for patience

Written March 1st, 2024 by Hasso Hering

This photo has nothing to do with Albany’s utility billing woes, but at least it says spring is near.

Albany’s problems with its new utility billing system surfaced in January and have continued since, prompting the city to put a statement on its website Friday thanking people for their patience and promising to get things fixed.

You can read the statement here.

As I reported in January, the problem affects some of the about 9,000 Albany water and sewer customers who pay their bills electronically. The city has about 22,000 customers, most of whom get paper bills in the mail.

In emails to me, people have complained about not getting bills, getting shut-off notices even though their bills had been paid, and related issues.

In his weekly report to the city council on Friday, City Manager Peter Troedsson wrote: “We hope to resolve most of these issues in the coming weeks, and we will be able to deliver an improved billing system that gives more information about customers’ accounts and more options for payment. We’re very grateful for customers’ patience!”

The city has temporarily halted the “autopay” feature of the software, which presumably deducts customers’ city utility charges and services fees from their bank accounts automatically.

I’ve been getting a smattering of emails from readers about the billing fiasco. Here’s one:

“Today I received a threatening water bill, for first time in several months, and it basically says my bill is past due and if I don’t pay it immediately I risk having my water turned. It would be interesting to get some more information regarding the implementation of this new billing system. I truly hope someone is being severely disciplined or, in my opinion, fired. Treating the citizens of Albany this way is just wrong. I have never missed a water bill payment since I moved to Albany 12 years ago.  I believe we as the citizens of Albany are owed an apology.”

The city contracted with a technology company called Util360 to provide new software for electronic utility billings and payments. The company’s website says it is headquartered in San Francisco and also has offices in Indonesia and Brazil. An online search of the company name comes up with an Oregon office, on Biddle Road in Central Point.

Under the phrase “revolutionize your billing process,” the company website says:

“Explore the four key features that define Util360’s Utility Billing Management Solution, bringing efficiency and precision to every aspect of your billing cycle. From automated billing processes that simplify tasks, real-time usage tracking for transparent customer insights, customizable invoicing for enhanced communication, to integrated analytics offering data-driven decision-making—experience a comprehensive solution designed to streamline your billing operations and elevate customer satisfaction.”

Looks like in Albany, those lofty promises have yet to be fulfilled. (hh)

22 responses to “Billing fiasco: Albany thanks you for patience”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    I’m still waiting for an ACTUAL EXPLANATION about what the new billing does FOR the users.The only reason the City would have to change is the current billing system didn’t allow them to add additional hidden charges.

    This is NOT the first “software upgrade” that has been a total fiasco from this department. Is it that difficult to look at a couple similar sized cities with the same water/sewer monopoly as Albany and ASK THEM how it works. Why do these people still have jobs.

    HOW MUCH HAS THIS COST US? Lets see if there is an HONEST city official that has the morality to tell the truth.

  2. Hartman says:

    The promises made by Util360 are in line with promises made by a company to relieve Albany of the horrific algae problem on the former gravel pit, Waverly Lake … pig in a poke comes to mind.

    • Cap B. says:

      I agree. The utility billing fiasco certainly is right up there with the “algae-in-Wavery-Lake” problem. Also (sorry, Linn County) the one that cost the taxpayer’s the most money is the “offloading-from-semi-trucks-onto-trains-Intermodal Center,” which has never off-loaded one container, not one!!! That was supposed to be such a huge deal that the governor and a lot of dignitaries had a big ribbon-cutting ceremony to open it. Boy, there must be quite a few big shots with egg on their faces over that!! I’d say for the next “supposedly” important project, skip the ribbon-cutting festivities. Just sayin’

  3. Cap B. says:

    First red flag: their Oregon office is in Central Point!!! Not exactly a hub of corporate activity!!! (And, most everything is corporate, nowadays.) We are such rubes in Oregon that we are so naive that we can’t maintain a computer system without a big, huge mess ensuing. The State of Oregon has had several computer fiascos regarding the outfits they have hired from out-of-state to install new computer systems. And, Albany is notoriously dumb in many aspects….CARA being the big one. I call the utility office and get a person online and pay by phone using my credit card. I’m glad a while back (because now I am not caught up in their billing mess) that they would not automatically let me charge to my credit card…it had to be that the automatic payment came directly out of my checking account. But, I don’t get rewards points that way…only get those if I use my credit card company. So, now I get the rewards points, but have to get them the old-fashioned way…by calling the city’s utility billing office.

  4. Richard Vannice says:

    What other cities have this system? Did anyone ask them for input? Is there any guarantee from the company about this program? Could it have been run as a test before implementation? If that were possible, why wasn’t it done? Someone néeds to answer to this fiasco

  5. chris j says:

    The city manager is beyond the pale asking us to be patient. The city has dirtied our water, spent tax money on very costly real estate decisions, unnecessary traffic cameras,
    park projects that will only used for a few months a year, have changed the senior center, are closing a preschool and probably the down town library. They have not encouraged livable wage jobs or affordable housing. So we are left with a pawn shop and an increasing the homeless shelter. By the way what is with the street work by the shelter, I drive by everyday and it is a mess. According to your blog the city vacated the street next to the shelter because they did not have plans for using it. I see the residents in the house on the corner outside with their dog. Isn’t their property being effected by the city work? Why would they make life difficult for the residents of the city. You said they own the house and is not part of the shelter. Is it still? If so they should respect their rights like they do any other citizen in Albany. Why should they carry the brunt of the city’s inability to manage the homeless. Will we soon see a happy blog about how the city forced them out to make room for more the homeless.

    • Cap B. says:

      Hear, hear!! I agree. Glad you mentioned the Pawn Shop with the big orange lettering. (Tee, hee…that orange lettering still makes me laugh!) A commenter on this blog has chastised my criticism of CARA and the millions spent (resulting in ruining the Sr. Center) by asking if I want the downtown to return to nothing but taverns (which is not a true statement…we had dept. stores, dentist’s offices, etc., even a grocery store in the past). NOW, Karma, or what have you, has bitten my critic in the backside. On 2nd Street, just down from the orange-signed Pawn Shop, there will now be a new tavern where an old one used to be….and, guess what! Right in the middle of the historic district, the modern-looking tavern is being painted “Orange.” Ha, ha, ha!!

  6. khssss says:

    Wonder who recommended this software solution? Looking at the web site they don’t even mention the founders/CEO et rest, or any places/cities where their solution is in use. Plus the website does not work properly in Mac Safari….

  7. Cap B. says:

    Hasso: Love the picture of the early spring blossoms at the top of this article. Forgot to say that.

  8. Patricia Eich says:

    Very annoying program. Harder than it should have been to set up a new login. I have paid my bill online for several years. Decided to go ahead with auto pay but it didn’t work. Got my paper bill in the mail a few day ago and logged on to pay. It was a couple of dollars different than my paper bill and the online bill pay said it might be different from the bill I received in the mail. I never had an issue with the old system. How much is this new program costing us? Hopefully they will get the kinks worked out soon.

  9. Dala Rouse says:

    So now people in Indonesia and Brazil a couple of corrupt countries have our personal information too. Wonder who checked out this company out besides you.

  10. Timothy M Stanton says:

    I think the first thing that needs to be addressed is the fact that you get a paper bill that says “billing” date is 2/19, while the due date is 2/29….. only ten days later.

    Then it takes time for the mailing, so you get even less time to pay before you get a shut-off notice. I had four days to pay. And then the website is ridiculously off …

    Most people don’t get paid within two weeks, much less four bloody days.

    What private company would be able to get away with this? None.

    Time for the city to get it’s act in order. At best, it’s misleading. At worst, it’s fraudulent.


  11. The beast says:

    I got my bill in the mail on the 27th and it said the due the 29th
    Lucky I still pay by check and I drop it off at the pay box outside city hall.

  12. Dala Rouse says:

    Oregon Law 860-036-1400 (5) (b) Says under Customer Billing The water utility new charges are due at least 15 days from the date the bill was served,
    Our city attorney doesn’t think this applies to cities. So we will see how that works out.

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      I “used to” often get my bill in the mail the day before the Bill Date printed on it. That pretty much indicates extremely sloppy bookkeeping.

      This ENTIRE CITY needs a thorough audit!

  13. Gary Walter says:

    I’ve been through a few software changes in my adult life. They almost always glitch, and users always complain.


    Be patient, Fix it and move on.

    PS: I haven’t had any problems (so far) and I pay online.

  14. hj.anony1 says:


    Just visited their site to do quick pay (without registration) and it says $0 due.
    Paper bill says otherwise.


  15. JNO says:

    The software issue will eventually be resolved. The thorny issue is the which city employee you talk to in the interim. The first person I called at the city offices was abrasive and attempted to say I owed for the prior month and they would shut off my water. This was clearly in error as I actually paid way ahead of the due date and had a credit balance of over $10. The arrogance of what would probably be claimed as soveriegn immunity rang through pretty clear in that phone call…basically they can say or act any way and we citizens are captive. She reluctantly admitted I was accurate.

    The second employee I spoke to in the last few days was very helpful although this year I have yet to receive a paper bill. I confirmed my balance and was told if I paid online with the new computer software that it would reflect as paid on both the old and new software. I think that some retraining needs to occur for the first employee in how to speak to the public.

  16. Wepayforthistreatment says:

    You know it is still going to increase costs and they just increased the storm water tax. They are always looking for ways to charge more not less. They have always treated me unprofessionally. They turned my water off, but I had the State pay for it, scold them for turning the water off on disabled, retired folks, living in poverty. I trust this new system will allow them to show a picture that they put a notice on your door. They told me it would take 100s of thousands of dollars to add that feature to the old system. BS there is always a cheap and easy work around.

  17. chris j says:

    Thank you for your comment about how they treated you. The people need to know what
    the older citizens are dealing with concerning the city. Shame on them for behaving so abusive to you. The state should fine the city when it deprives people of necessities with so little cause.

  18. William Ayers says:

    Wow! If it was just this it would be “Ah Well” , but this is so emblematic of the plethora of systemic problems and breakdowns throughout our country and the world.

  19. Richard S. says:

    Just one more example of the City running roughshod over the citizens!

    Oh wait, I should not complain…I’m in North Albany, which some in government don’t realize is part of the city. (ie, the Police Dept. – seen one watching the speeders on Gibson Hill lately?) Maybe City Hall is not happy that our “higher” taxes partially go to Benton County…


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