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New utility billing plan gives residents more benefits

EDITOR'S NOTE: This public service announcement was provided by Betty Strifler, Clerk of the Circuit Court. Questions or comments about this column may be forwarded to her at 110 N Apopka Ave., Inverness, FL 34450, by phone at 341-6469 or 341-6473 or the clerk's Web site www.clerk.citrus.fl.us.

Through a joint initiative of Citrus County and the Citrus County Clerk of Courts, the Citrus County utility system will introduce a new billing and customer service method for all customers of the Citrus County utility system. In place of the postcard billing system used in the past, Citrus County utilities will introduce a new expanded full page bill beginning in October. The new bill will also contain a return address envelope for each customer to mail the payment to our new customer service office in Beverly Hills.

Citrus County is providing this enhanced service through a contractual agreement with the Florida Governmental Utility Authority. The FGUA will share its customer service office at the Park Plaza Shopping Center, 3513 N Lecanto Highway, unit F-6, Beverly Hills, FL 34465, with Citrus County. Beginning Oct. 1, both Citrus County and FGUA customers will be served from this same office. The new customer service number will be (352) 746-2460 or toll-free 1-866-746-2460.

Payments can be made by mail, in person at the Beverly Hills Office or by direct bank draft (called E-Z Pay). If you are currently using the Citrus County direct bank draft system, no change is required. The county will continue your bank draft arrangement with its new billing system.

The change in billing systems will produce a few changes that will affect some Citrus County customers. Currently, some customers are billed in increments of 10 gallons while others are billed in 100- or 1,000-gallon increments. Beginning with the October bills, all bills will be issued with readings in 1,000 gallon increments. To insure no customer is billed twice for the same usage, the beginning reading will be rounded up to the next 1,000 gallons. This will result in some customers gaining up to 990 free gallons, depending on their last reading under the old billing system.

As part of the conversion, there will be changes made to meter reading routes and billing cycles. This may result in some customers receiving a partial month's bill in late October or early November as we adjust meter-reading routes. Following this one-time adjustment, all bills in subsequent months will be for a full month's bill.

Why are the county and Clerk of Courts making this change? We expect to provide you more informative and useful bills, with the ability to add customer information inserts and return payment envelopes. Payments will continue to be made to a customer service office in Citrus County. Finally, we expect to provide customer service and billing services at a more efficient cost, which will provide long-term savings to Citrus County utility customers.

As with any change, there may be a few bumps in the road as we convert to the new system in October. In the event of a billing concern during this transition and beyond, please contact one of the two customer service telephone numbers listed at the beginning of this article.

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