Colorado Springs Utilities is considering having all of its bill payments processed through KUBRA in Arizona, a move that would eliminate at least three local staff members.
"It is true that there is some investigation as the customer service department is looking at opportunities to improve customer service," Utilities spokeswoman Natalie Eckhart said Monday. "No decision has been made.
"As they are reviewing this opportunity, they've been very open with their staff members. But I cannot confirm they are definitely moving to KUBRA."
That company already handles Utilities' online and credit card payments through KUBRA EZ-PAY, charging a $1.85 fee per residential payment and $5.85 per business payment.
If KUBRA is selected, Utilities would funnel all payments to Arizona for processing - including any mailed bills or those deposited in the 18 drop-boxes scattered across the city.
The Utilities Service Center, at 111 S. Cascade Ave., will get an indoor kiosk this fall for bill payers' convenience as well, Eckhart said.
A drive-through payment box at that center had to be closed last year amid heavy construction on Colorado Avenue, she said.
Utilities board members said they hadn't heard about the possible move to KUBRA.
"I didn't know anything about that specifically," said Andres "Andy" Pico, board chairman. "I knew we had outsourced the collections. In general, I'm usually in favor of outsourcing where it makes sense."
Vice Chairman Tom Strand had the opposite perspective.
"I wish I knew about it," Strand said. "I would be reluctant to do anything that takes the money out of Colorado and in any way affects any of our employee positions. If they can show some huge savings where we can benefit the ratepayers, I'd certainly consider it.
"I want to protect jobs here in Colorado Springs, not only at CSU, but for other companies that support us."
Said Eckhart, "There are no planned layoffs related to our current exploration of a change in payment processing. We continually seek the most cost-effective ways to serve our customers.
"KUBRA handles the majority of our payment processing and therefore is part of our current review. No decisions have been made."
As more people show a preference for paying bills online, she said, Utilities is heeding that trend. Payment options are listed at www.csu.org/pages/ways-to-pay-r.aspx.