• October 30, 2014

City to collect donations with water bills

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Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013 4:30 am

LAMPASAS — A new amendment to state law will make it easier for local libraries to receive voluntary financial contributions from the public.

House Bill 693 was passed and signed by Gov. Rick Perry last month granting authorities permission to collect library donations from municipal water and sewer utility customers through their monthly billing statements.

In Lampasas, customers have long been able to make voluntary contributions to their local emergency medical service district through monthly utility bills. On Monday, Lampasas Municipal Library Director Shanda Subia asked the Lampasas City Council to approve adding another donation box on behalf of the library.

Although the legislative change provides an opportunity to generate an additional revenue stream for the Lampasas Municipal Library, the city’s current utility statements leave no room to add a box for library contributions.

“So currently, on our utility bills, there is a line for EMS with a $3 voluntary donation,” Subia said. “But there is no room to add another line, the way the bills are.”

City council and staff members discussed a variety of options, including reformatting a new design of the utility statements, alternating the donation box between EMS and the library, or adding the donation to the city’s new website, which allows customers to pay their utility bills online.

According to HB 693, the billing statement must specify the donation is voluntary, describe the procedure to make contributions and designate which entity is to receive funds.

The city is required to deliver the proceeds of the donation, and, if it chooses, the city may keep up to 5 percent of the amount collected to cover distribution costs.

Councilman Mike White asked if the city ever retained money for collecting EMS contributions.

“No, the county retains 100 percent of that contribution,” Finance Director Carol Boberg said.

Boberg estimated EMS receives about $1,200 per month from the voluntary contribution on the utility statements.

“There are a lot of people who don’t even know that’s a contribution — they just pay it,” White said.

To add the library donation, Boberg said the city would have to switch to a more costly paper billing system.

After discussion, the council approved Subia’s request to collect contributions for the library and directed city staff to review the most feasible route.

Based on a recommendation from City Manager Finley deGraffenried, the council will set the donation amount at a later time.

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