Water authority changing payment methods

The St. Marys Water Authority is changing some of the options available for paying water bills. Effective July 1, the authority is no longer accepting in-person payments at the First Commonwealth Bank branches in St. Marys and Kersey. In-person payments may now be made only at St. Marys City Hall, 11 Lafayette St., at the sewer office window on the first floor. Dwight Hoare, manager of the St. Marys Water Authority, said the change came due to the bank’s plan to increase collection costs for accepting water payments at the beginning of the month. “July 1 was when they were [First Commonwealth] going to raise the collection fee to a really, really high rate, so we dropped that option,” Hoare said. “We hooked up with the city and they agreed to be a collection point where people could drop off their bills if they want to pay them in person.”Additionally, the authority is now offering a direct payment plan to customers, allowing them the convenience of having payments deducted automatically from a checking or savings account each month. “They call it ACH, where the money comes out of your checking account each month,” Hoare said. “It’s something that we’ve gotten many requests for over the years, and the time came that First Commonwealth, they increased the costs of their collection where we couldn’t afford it anymore. “That, plus the people who travel particularly in the winter, we got a request from people who aren’t here in the winter, so they don’t have to worry about it, they can have it debited from their checking account. That was another big request we got. “Per transaction, it’s a lot less. It acts to keep the cost down on our end and the water bills overall.”