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Tue October 5, 2010
Las Cruces Takes a Second Look at Drive-up Bill Payment
By Vanessa Dabovich
Las Cruces, NM – Bill payment drive-up services at the old City Hall closed in 2007 and the city contracted with El Paso Electric for City staff to accept utility payment at the Solano location. However, the city closed operation there in fall of last year and opted to open Western Union sites instead. Due to an increase in resident demand for the return of the drive-up window the council looked into the possibility during Monday's meeting.
According City Treasurer Robert Scaling, the average number of payments received at Solano in the final three months of operation was a little over forty-three hundred which accounts for just fewer than ten percent of total monthly payments.
The annual cost to operate at Solano in 2008 was seventy-five thousand dollars and officials estimate it would be around eighty thousand dollars next year.
City Councilor Dolores Connor says she feels that amount of money could be better used.
Connor-"This is one of those services that we need to consider that $80,000 could be more utilized in some of the things that are coming apart for us. It would be grand to have a drive up window if we were in a better time, but $80,000 to the 2011-2012 budgets could be three people to the parks and recreation department that services our children and families. If you are going to drive to Solano you may as well drive to City Hall."
City finance staff says based on the average number of monthly transactions at Solano, each would cost one dollar and forty-three cents to process as compared to sixty-five cents at the New City Hall.
The council didn't make any final decisions and asked city staff to look into a possible partnership with area banks where utility payments could be made.