Guess We’re Back To Writing Paper Checks For The Lawton Water Bill
Over the last calendar month, there has been a saga playing out between Lawton utility customers and the City of Lawton. Mayor Stan Booker was elected originally on the promise of modernizing city hall, and his latest attempt at doing that has become a series of aggravating failures.
Not all is without merit in the story of Lawton's modernization. One of the first things Mayor Booker accomplished in his first term was giving us all an option to pay our water bills online. Though it was through an out-of-state third party, it worked and it was affordable with a very low 75¢ surcharge. Years later, the goal was to bring that process home to Lawton, and (likely) those surcharges too.
The original rollout for the new City of Lawton Bill Pay system was all anybody was talking about some four weeks ago. As utility billing catches up to this first full cycle, it's been nothing but reassurance from the city that "It's should be working correctly now..." every few days.
Lost accounts, multiple sign-ups, two different sites to handle just one task... I honestly feel a little bad for whoever keeps shanking the project because Mayor Booker is taking all the heat that isn't actually his. I mean, yes it was his campaign promise so it was his idea, but he's not the guy writing code trying to make it all work. From the results so far, I would guess it's probably some poor unpaid intern trying to put this all together.
So what do we, the City of Lawton utility customers do for now? I really don't know.
The City of Lawton website says I have a bill but it won't let me check the box to begin the payment process... I pay bills on my phone, it's not mobile friendly... and the other Utility Bill Pay site suggests that I don't have a current bill, but I'm encouraged to make a payment in the absence of one... Shenanigans.
I suppose the logical thing to do would be to go back to writing paper checks until someone that can at city hall gets serious about fixing this huge failure.
Is it going to cost the city more money to process paper checks? Probably... but pinching pennies to lose dollars is the trademark of small local governments in towns our size.
It's not all bad though, there's no reason to let this hang on you... You just need a positive spin to give you a little hope the same way we all hope FISTA becomes successful one day, or how we hope the city realizes its failure in refuse collection and finds a fix for that too... In the case of online utility bill pay, the city can't fall any further so there's nowhere to go but up. That sentiment is sadly comforting.