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City of Columbia utilities transitions autopay to PayComo

City of Columbia utilities has a new system for automatic payments, and customers will need to make the switch soon to avoid potential late fees.

Starting in April, all utility auto payments will be processed through PayComo, a new payment platform managed by the city's finance department.

The city originally said in a press release that all customers must make an account through PayComo and enroll in autopayments at least three full days before the due date of their March bill. That deadline has now been extended to the April billing cycle, according to City of Columbia Treasurer Chelsea Miller.

“Because we've had a lot of people that need some extra hand-holding and in-person, we've made the internal decision to push that back one month,” Miller said.

Miller said the switch to autopay through PayComo is an effort to consolidate payments for residents and city employees under one simple system – something that she said the city is currently lacking.

“If you have a Home Energy loan and a utility bill, you have to go to two different sites. If you get a parking ticket, that's a third site. If you have an ARC membership, that's another site, right? So there's all these different sites with all these different payment processors. So it's a really inconsistent resident experience,” Miller said.

Over the next few months, Miller said that the city will begin transitioning other city bills to PayComo, starting with general billing and home energy loans. She said the city hopes to continue to transition other city services over to PayComo.

“It's a very big undertaking. The city's a very large full service city with lots of departments and lots of payments and lots of cashiering units. But this is our first step and it's working really well,” Miller said.

Although Miller said the city is planning to transition manual online utility payments to the PayComo platform next quarter, customers who wish to manually pay their bill online can still do so through the existing MyUtilityBill portal on the City of Columbia utility website. The switch to PayComo doesn’t mean that utility customers have to use autopay or manual online payments – a variety of in-person and mail-in payment options will remain available.

“We list all of our payment options online. I'm proud of how many we offer. It's in-person, mail … but you can also pick community partners like Walmart and Gerbes. You can pay through our dropbox behind city hall … and then we have a drive-thru,” Miller said. “It is not a forced change. If you want to continue auto pay this is the way to sign up, but we've got lots of other payment options.”

In addition to signing up through the PayComo website, customers can call the utility customer service office or come in person to City Hall for assistance in getting set up. Miller said that utility customer service workers are also equipped with iPads to help any resident who may need technical assistance – just be aware, wait times might be longer than usual due to the change. An email address is also required.

To make a PayComo account, customers can go to pay.como.gov, click on the “connect account” button and enter the first eight digits of the utility customer number that appears in the top right corner of your bill.

Anna Spidel is a health reporter for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. A proud Michigander, Anna hails from Dexter, Michigan and received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Michigan State University in 2022. Previously, she worked with member station Michigan Radio as an assistant producer on Stateside.
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