Case Study: Milledgeville, GA
Located 30 miles northeast of Macon, Milledgeville has an approximate population of 20,000 and is home to three colleges: Central Georgia Technical College, Georgia College and Georgia Military College.
- Tyler Technologies’ Incode® Utility Billing Software
- Tyler Notify™
- Reduced paper usage by approximately 80%
- Increased storage space
- Boosted revenue by increasing collections
- Average monthly cutoffs decreased approximately 50-75%
- Minimized overtime pay for meter readers
When the City of Milledgeville, Georgia, first implemented Tyler’s Incode® solution in 2006, Patti Rushin likened it to stepping out of an old car and into a sleek spaceship.
“We felt like we came from a creaky chain operation to a well-oiled machine,” Rushin, the manager of Milledgeville’s financial department, said. “All the things we wanted to do in our department and dreamed of doing were all offered by Tyler. We have not been disappointed. We moved out of the dark ages.”
Switching from a record-keeping system of cumbersome binders filled with green bar paper to Incode’s electronic database has done more than usher Rushin and her team into the modern day; Milledgeville has reduced paper usage by 80 percent, increased storage space and boosted revenue.
“It’s boosted our revenue because people are people and don’t always remember to pay their water bill. But now we can easily contact them to allow them to pay on time. It has boosted our collections and allows our citizens to keep up with their bills,” Rushin said.
At the forefront of these benefits is Tyler Notify™, a feature of Incode that allows cities the capability to create and automatically send customized phone messages to its citizens. Milledgeville uses it to send courtesy messages, penalty notifications and utility cutoff notices to their citizens.
Tyler Notify has not only assisted the city’s utility department, but it’s positively impacted the city as a whole. Rushin and her team have embraced the feature and what it offers to Milledgeville citizens.
“We’re so busy and having Tyler Notify helps us connect with our citizens and keeps our office running smoothly in so many ways. Our citizens love it. So everyone’s happy.”
Increasing collections while decreasing cutoffs and overtime
Milledgeville is located in central Georgia, just northeast of Macon. The city is home to three colleges: Central Georgia Technical College, Georgia College and Georgia Military College. The large influx of college students at the beginning of each semester – along with their departure after final exams – causes a flurry of activity among the approximately 20,000 people who call Milledgeville home. Before commencement and again after graduation, Rushin and the rest of her team have learned to stay on their collective toes.
“With all these colleges in our city, we’ve learned that not all college kids understand how to pay bills,” Rushin said with a chuckle. “It’s particularly tough when they’re all moving in and out at the start and finish of each semester. College kids are… well, kids. They keep us busy. Tyler Notify has helped tremendously with that.”
Before the implementation of Tyler Notify, Milledgeville had to shut off utilities for approximately 500 people each month for non-payment. The process of constantly disconnecting and reconnecting utilities placed a large burden on Milledgeville’s meter readers.
“We were having to pay overtime, because our meter reader force was constantly doing cutoffs and reconnects. Our meter readers also have to constantly check for emergencies like leaks and line breaks, so it was very difficult for them,” Rushin said.
Rushin explained that in very busy months, meter readers would have to do almost 60 connects and disconnects in one day. Since adding Tyler Notify, Milledgeville has seen its average monthly cutoffs decrease anywhere from 50 to 75 percent.
We only had 190 on the cutoff list last month. The same month last year we had 580! Tyler Notify really helps get people in to pay their bills. It helps us get the revenue in, it saves the citizen the disconnect fee and our meter readers aren’t getting overworked trying to keep up with all the cutoffs and reconnects.
Finance Department Manager
“Good employees deserve good working conditions, and our meter readers are the best. They’ve thanked us so many times. I’m happy because they’re happy. They work hard and it’s great because they no longer have to work as much overtime. I’m happy because we’ve made life better for them, and Tyler has helped us to do that.”
Keeping citizens safe and informed
In addition to helping Rushin’s city staff, Tyler Notify has made life easier for the citizens of Milledgeville.
“Our citizens have embraced it and they have actually verbally thanked us over and over. They rush in and pay their water bill when they forget and they appreciate us letting them know ahead of time,” Rushin explained. “Most people really do care and life just gets in the way, but now we’re able to help remind them when they’re about to lose water. We save them that inconvenience, so they couldn’t be happier. It’s good publicity for us as well – our citizens trust us.”
In addition to helping their citizens pay their bills on time and avoid cutoffs, Milledgeville uses Tyler Notify to inform citizens of important changes that could affect them.
When an emergency occurs, such as a break in a water line or a water outage, Milledgeville citizens are quickly notified via Tyler Notify. They receive the message in a timely matter, which is vitally important to their safety.
“Sometimes people experience a water outage if a line breaks or we have a boil water notice. Other times we need to tell people to run their water for a while. If it’s in the newspaper it’s a day late. It’s hit-or-miss whether people catch it on the radio or the television,” Rushin said. “But now, we can contact people directly with any important information that could affect them. They really appreciate that.”
Innovative leadership yields efficiency
Thanks to the creativity and hard work of Rushin and her team, the City of Milledgeville and its citizens can continue to enjoy the convenience of automatic notifications. Rushin explained that her city’s innovative leadership played a large role in implementing Tyler Notify.
“I have to give a big kudos to our city manager, Barry Jarrett,” Rushin said. “Every time Tyler makes something available to us to make our lives and the lives of our citizens better, he is all for it. It really helps to have a city manager who is innovative and can see the worth in what Tyler has to offer.”
Rushin is looking forward to what the future holds for her city’s partnership with Tyler.
“I can’t say enough about Tyler. The people there are my life line. I know them by name – I even know their children’s names – and they know me,” Rushin said. “We have a great relationship with them and we have a common goal. I feel like we chose the right company on our first try.”