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Council approves e-service expansion

By Brian Oliver, The Graphic

The City Hall of Portage la Prairie.  (FILE PHOTO)

The City Hall of Portage la Prairie. (FILE PHOTO)

In an effort to convenience citizens while lowering operating costs, the city's e-services will be expanding.

Portage city council approved a motion at Monday night's council meeting that will see the implementation of expanded electronic services available, as the city spends upwards of $19,000 annually mailing out bills.

"It's something we want to get moving on very quickly for people that do look to have this type of service," said Coun. Brent Budz, following Monday evening's meeting. "We're finding, although it's not actively used right now, there is a growing request from citizens to expand our electronic offerings."

Council focused on six specific services with the expectation that further electronic service choices will be added in the future. 

The initial services proposed are emailed invoices for utility bills, monthly payments for utility accounts, preauthorized payments for utility accounts, requests for water services, Tax Instalment Payment Plan (TIPP) and business licenses.

"We realize that people's time is valuable," Budz adds. "It's not so much necessarily that we aren't doing it now, it's for the sign up of certain activities. That won't require people coming down to city hall as much as they currently do."

Presently, 20 per cent of the city's customers use electronic services for property tax payments, while 17 per cent use the service for utility bills and just 11 per cent use the service for e-billings. As an incentive to increase electronic service usage, each new permanent sign-up will qualify the customer for a chance to win one of three Stride Place Active Memberships.

Those who sign up for the city's e-services between Sept. - Dec. will be automatically entered in the draw, which is set for the end of the year. 

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