Dallas city council considers charging for printed water bills

The city of Dallas approved on Wednesday a $10 million contract for water bills.

It's a reminder of how expensive snail mail can be. It's also started a conversation among council members about whether people should be charged for not going to online bill pay.

According to a recent study, more than half of all bills in America are now paid electronically.

But in Dallas, only 20 percent of people have gone paperless for water bills. And with today's big price tag, it has some council members raising questions.

The company, Kubra, just landed a $10 million contract to print Dallas water bills for the next five years. The company would not allow FOX 4 to get video of their facility in Coppell, citing privacy concerns.

With costs of paper bills so high, several Dallas city council members want more people to go paperless.

"I think we're lagging a bit,” said Councilman Philip Kingston. “While it is important to maintain paper billing for people who don't have internet access, everyone else should be incentivized in some way to lower our costs by adopting paperless billing."

Kingston believes the city should either provide a discount for people who use online bill pay or charge people the 67 cents it costs for each bill or $8 a year.

“Right now, we are disincentivizing people to use paperless billing because they pay the same amount even though they are not getting the paper bill,” he said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Dwaine Caraway said he is among those who still get a paper bill.

"As we continue to progress toward being greener and paperless, at the end of the day, seniors are not on computers,” Caraway said. “We must understand we can't just eliminate it because those folks not computer literate, it puts a burden on them."

Renae Perry of the Senior Source says paper mail is still the best option for many seniors.

"Imagine if you didn't have a computer at home where you could access email regularly,” Perry said. “It could be very easy to lose track of those emails and miss payments and be penalized with fees."

Councilman Kingston says he doesn't want to eliminate paper billing altogether. He just wants to reduce the number of people who use it.

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