Listservs and other resources
I’ve written in the past about resources I use to stay abreast of trends in the industry and to share my knowledge. I apologize in advance to those readers who aren’t based in North Carolina, because this issue is somewhat North Carolina-centric. North Carolina is where I live and has historically been where most of Logics’ customers are, so it’s the state I’m most familiar with. However, please don’t stop reading if you aren’t from North Carolina, because I’ve got a favor to ask of you later on.
Listservs I follow
If you’re not familiar with a listserv, once you’ve subscribed, you can ask a question of everyone on the listserv by sending an email to the listserv email address. Likewise, questions asked by others end up in your inbox and you can reply so everyone in the listserv sees your response.
Below is a list of the listservs I follow, in order of the most utility billing-related content:
NC Water listserv – topics dealing with water utilities, often related to utility billing and customer service.
NC Finance Connect – topics related to local government finance, occasionally includes utility billing and customer service.
NC City and County Manager’s listserv – topics of interest to city and county managers, rarely includes utility billing and customer service.
Virginia GFOA listserv – listserv for government finance professionals in Virginia, but with infrequent utility billing and customer service questions.
Why join a listserv?
I follow these listservs for two reasons. First, to lend my expertise when a question is asked for which I can provide an answer. Secondly, listserv questions are often a good source of ideas for newsletter topics. If someone has a question prompting them to ask how other utilities deal with that issue, it is often something I can elaborate on in a newsletter.
Another great resource is rates dashboards from the Environmental Finance Center at the UNC School of Government. The EFC has a series of rates dashboards for 18 states and Canada. To see if they have one for your state, you can check here, or below is a hyperlinked list of states, current as of the date of this newsletter:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
You can use these rates dashboards to compare your utility’s rates to other utilities in your area, much like the Utility Fee Survey allows you to compare fees with other utilities.
Speaking of resources and the UNC School of Government, Kara Millonzi, an attorney and professor at the School of Government, has written a book entitled Guide to Billing and Collecting Public Enterprise Utility Fees for Water, Wastewater, and Solid Waste Services. Written for utilities in North Carolina, this book answers many questions about what utilities legally can and cannot due. It cites the appropriate General Statute and case law, where applicable, to answer legal questions regarding billing and collecting for utilities in North Carolina.
Do yourself a favor and order it now!
What resources do you use?
Are there similar resources you use when you need to find the answers to your utility billing questions? I would love to know what resources you use, especially if you are located outside of North Carolina. If there are listservs in your state, please feel free so share them by dropping me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, better yet, share them as a comment below so other readers can learn what resources you rely on.