WILLMAR -- Customers of Willmar Municipal Utilities will find a new colorful format to their monthly bills.
The utility has replaced the beige-colored card with a slightly larger white card with clearer text and artwork. The new format went into effect with the May billing cycle.
In honor of Memorial Day, the May bills have a picture of a U.S. flag and a Memorial Day message.
Customers with more than one account will receive their bills consolidated onto an 8½-by-11 piece of white piece of paper, also with clearer text and artwork. In the past, customers with more than one account received a postcard for each account.
The utility office is no longer printing the bills. The new bills are being printed by Varia-Print of New London. The utility prepares and sends Varia-Print the calculations and numbers and the company formats the information with the picture and desired text.
Larry Heinen, customer service supervisor for the Willmar Municipal Utilities, said the utilities switched formats because the old dot-matrix printers were limited in what they could print on a bill. The new laser printers offer more room for text messages and insertion of a photo if desired.
"It gives us a lot more flexibility and a lot more room to print messages, because with the laser printers we can put a lot of lines on it if we want to or make the print bigger,'' he said. "On a laser, it's much clearer to read anyway.''
The utility sends out about 10,000 bills a month, said Heinen.
"With the third party doing the mailing, they have the official postal software and they can put the postal bar codes on the bottom and we get a 4-cent break on our postage and that helps pay part of the cost of outsourcing them,'' Heinen.
"We hope everybody likes the new format,'' he said.
-- David Little