Is Lawton Sneaking A New Fee Into The Water Bill?
Every month it's the same. In the days leading up to the 15th, I get all of my utility bills and schedule them to be paid on payday. I think I've paid my electric and gas bills either in an app or through a mobile webpage since 2013, but the Lawton water bill is relatively new to me online.
For years it's been easy to just drop a check in the collection box outside city hall on my way to the downtown studios, but since the pandemic hit and Mayor Booker kept his promise to start bringing a little technology to city hall, I've paid that bill through the TylerPortico link from their website... but there's something amiss in trying to schedule my payment this month... a hidden additional charge after the total payment has been confirmed.
As you can see, the total payment to be remitted by the City of Lawton and the out-of-state and non-local company providing the service is to be $71.88 including the standard and reasonable seventy-five cent processing fee... but when I hit "Schedule Payment" that total goes up after the fact...
Now before you start thinking I'm just hitting the wrong button, believe me, I thought that too. Cancel payment, start over again... I've done the exact same thing with the exact same option for fifteen previous payments, but nobody is perfect I suppose. Try again, extra fee. Cancel payment, start again... After a few attempts I figure I might go ahead and call the number on the website to figure this out.
After talking to the City of Lawton representative, who was exceptionally polite and trying their hardest to be helpful, I get the same result and nobody knows where that additional fee is coming from, especially since it's technically a ghost charge coming between confirmation and scheduled status.
Surely this is just a technical malfunction of the program. I know that in my heart... but given the history of city hall's secret decision making since the day after the 2020 CIP vote... the creamery, the mall, cutting trash service, raising costs, ending street improvements after the election, etc... the odds of this being a hidden additional fee might be low, but they're never zero.
Word to the wise, before you check off your water bill as paid this month, do a double-check to ensure you're not experiencing the same shenanigans.