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Petersburg residents continue to complain about bill processing times

PETERSBURG, Va. -- For the past six months, Petersburg resident Ronald Thompson has had to visit City Hall to straighten out problems with his utility bills.

"I can understand if there's a problem you get it fixed, but 6 months down the line, I mean, there's no reason, there's no reason why," Thompson said.

Thompson is just one of an increasing number of Petersburg residents who say they have faced problems with bills being processed by City Hall.

Common complaints including long lines and wait times for bill processing, checks failing to clear, and bills continuing to show a "past due" amount despite the account being paid off.

The growing number of grievances prompted Petersburg City Council Member Treska Wilson-Smith to spend three days at City Hall to observe the process.

While Wilson-Smith believes more people should be doing collections in order to cut down on wait times, the City Administration said that long lines are a customer's choice.

Chief Operating Officer Michael Rogers said that the fastest way to pay bills is by utilizing a payment method called the lockbox.

Through the lockbox, utility payments are sent directly to the bank in Baltimore for processing.

But despite that the lockbox is the fastest method for payment, some in the city object and prefer to pay in person at City Hall with cash or check.

To help those who pay in person, Rogers and Wilson-Smith said that adding more employees to assist with utility processing is in the works, and the city is considering opening City Hall for business on certain Saturdays.