May 18--DANVILLE -- In 2006, Aqua Illinois officials said about 42 percent of the water company's 18,000 city customers pay their bills in person.
Today, that number is 11-12 percent, according to Aqua Illinois Area Manager Bob Ervin.
"It's a smaller group of people utilizing it and it's expensive to maintain a full-time person and backups ...," Ervin said.
Ervin gave an update on Aqua Illinois projects and also told the Danville City Council Tuesday night Aqua's Gilbert Street office is phasing out in-person payments for water bills starting July 17.
Aqua is pushing other payment options: by phone, online, direct payments from checking accounts and by mail in addition to Western Union payment locations.
"There's a certain part of our customer base that feels comfortable giving it to someone," Ervin said of their water bills.
Over the years, the Aqua Illinois drive-up window also has been a safety concern with backed-up vehicles onto Gilbert Street.
Ervin said Aqua has a staffed payment process site in New Jersey.
When they maintain that staffing at the local level, there's a smaller group of people who could be utilized to do other things, he said. This is not the best use of local resources and they are looking to do things more efficiently, he said.
"We're trying to get the remaining (customers) to use a more cost-effective measure," he said. "We're looking to utilize those resources for other functions."
Ervin said there would not be any employee layoffs, but they would realign the employees.
Aqua is doing more statewide and using staff to do things outside of this division, he added.
If a customer still wants to hand a bill to a person they can pay a one-time set up charge at a Western Union location. One is not far from the Aqua Gilbert Street office.
Local Western Union locations include: First Payday Loans, 1 N. Gilbert St.; Check 'n Go, 22 E. West Newell Road; Ace Cash Express, 4111 N. Vermilion St.; and Westville 66, 1717 N. State St.
Aqua employees still will be available to answer questions.
They hope for a smooth transition and will help customers, Ervin said.
"We want to transition our customers, the ones accustomed to coming in, if they are interested in signing up for the other payment options," he said.
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