City’s service charges spike: Online bill pay to blame

Earlier this year, the City of Keizer switched to a new service that was more “friendly and integrated” for end users. 

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the closure of the Keizer Civic Center to walk-in traffic, usage of the payment portal has spiked and resulted in higher-than-anticipated bill for service fees. 

“With the increase in the activity, there is an increase in service fees,” said Tim Wood, Keizer finance director. 

On Monday, May 6, Keizer city councilors had to approve the transfer $20,000 from one account to another to cover the surging costs. 

It was a tough pill to swallow for Keizer City Councilor Dan Kohler, who said it was “a lot” to pay in service charges. 

Kohler asked whether the city would have to absorb the service charges or recoup the money in some other form. 

Wood said the charges would normally be factored into water and stormwater rates, but the city has decided to forego increases in those utilities during the coming fiscal year. 

“We will be absorbing them for the immediate future and it will be a slow down in capital outlay,” Wood said. 

He added that the new system has increased efficiency. 

The online bill payment system is owned by Springbrook Software, which collects a .30-cent fee on every transaction is addition to significantly higher fees on returned and rejected payments. If every one of Keizer’s roughly 14,000 households paid utility bills online, the Spring Software would collect approximately $4,200 a month in fees. 

Springbrook Software was purchased by a California-based private equity company, Accel-KKR, in January 2020. The Accel-KKR website boasts of possessing “$9 billion in committed capital across its buyout, growth capital and credit funds.”