Forsyth County water and sewer customers may notice a new look -- but not change in price -- on their upcoming bills.
A county software update to Cogsdale, expected to debut Feb. 11, will result in a new design and more detailed statement.
The county will begin issuing the new-look bills about a week after the software update, said Jamie Payne, the county's director of commercial services.
"Staff should have five to seven business days to really get acclimated and up to speed before they would be getting any calls related to the piece of paper the customer would get," Payne said.
The first statements customers receive will contain an insert with information about how to navigate and understand the new billing format.
Most noticeably, the bills will display a water consumption bar graph, comparing water use by month for the past year.
The costs will also be displayed in more detail, breaking down what the customer owes in each tier of the water billing system.
The county charges residential customers a base rate for use of up to 1,000 gallons. Any amount over that is charged on based on five tiers that increase in price for higher levels of use.
"We have to make those changes so the customers can make conscientious decisions about their water consumption," Payne said.
In the near future, she said, the county will also launch a Web site portal where customers can view their monthly charges and process payments.
On the staff's end, the software will enable them to keep a customer's water and sewer activity within one system.
"Cogsdale's bringing full circle everything that affects the customer when they call," Payne said. "And in customer service, we will know more about that and be able to assist them."
In the software switch, the department is also doing some "cleanup" of billing procedures, she said, such as combining customers' irrigation accounts with their household ones so there's "only one due date."
Cogsdale was awarded the county contract in March 2009, with the money coming from the water and sewer fund.
The county selected February for the launch since it would be prior to irrigation season, which is when Payne said customer service's call volume increases.
Staff has been training on the system, but County Manager Doug Derrer reminded customers that the software conversions are challenging.
"It may take some time to work out the bugs, but we're doing everything in our power to make sure things are ... as seamless as they can be," he said.