Dowagiac City Council approves kiosk construction, amends utility ordinance

DOWAGIAC — Residents of Dowagiac can look forward to easy access to city services in the coming months.

The Dowagiac City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the purchase of a payment kiosk for utility payments Monday night in a Zoom meeting.

The kiosk, which will be located inside the Dowagiac Family Fare at 56151 M-51 S., would allow citizens more access to city services outside of the traditional Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Locating a kiosk at Family Fare would make the kiosk available 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

The anticipated budget for one kiosk, the software required for it, and the first-year service agreement will be approximately $19,000. The annual cost after the first year is expected to be $2,000.

“Over the last two years, the city council has made it a priority to make City Hall more accessible outside of standard business hours,” Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson said. “Not everyone has the technology or bank accounts to be able to pay online. We wanted to give people without those means access to city utility services.”

Anderson anticipates it will take 90 to 120 days to receive and install the kiosk. No fees will be charged to kiosk users.

“The kiosk will have the same kind of feel as an ATM,” Anderson said. “You will be able to access your account and pay bills. Working with a store like Family Fare made sense for us and made sense for them. The kiosk can serve the community long after this pandemic passes because of the convenience of paying a utility bill while shopping for groceries and having access to it 214 hours a week.”

The council also unanimously approved the decision to amend sections 82-1 and 82-7 regarding utility services and deposits. The amendments simplify the utility deposit system while continuing to have utility deposits that reflect actual risk should a customer not pay on an account.

“We had been calculating a unique deposit for each property,” Anderson said. “But that’s been confusing for customers because it can vary from house to house. People are more used to deposits being a set amount. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it created more problems for us.

“We always look at how we provide services and make adjustments to the utility system when necessary.”

Anderson said that the amendments will go into effect as soon as it is published, which will be within the next 10 days.

 

In other business:

  • The council approved to continue and expand the use of Automatic Clearing House (ACH) payments to city vendors. ACH is a computer-based electronic network for processing transactions between participating financial institutions that supports both credit transfers and direct debits. The City of Dowagiac will now engage in ACH payments for City invoices where possible.
  • The council approved a resolution to authorize the purchase of a 2020 Ford F-150 Supercrew for $31,934.00 for the Cass County Drug Enforcement Team. CCDET millage funds will reimburse the city for this purchase.

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