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City Hall to debut new Finance Department digs
The former Ceres City Council Chambers, the scene of city leadership dramas from the 1970s to 2008, has been remodeled into the new city Finance Department.

Councilman Eric Ingwerson was startled at the changes on a tour last Friday. He remarked that the room was unrecognizable from the former council chambers were he presided over during two terms as mayor.

Work on the $182,450 project is over and the city is finishing outdoor sidewalk improvements to make the building's northern entrance more handicapped accessible. The remodeling of the "White Room" at City Hall gives the Finance Department more room with more lobby space and pay station windows.

Unhappy lines of city utility bill payer should not be backing up out of the doors of City Hall after the city opens the new room on Monday.

For many years those paying their bills were confined to a small reception area which filled up and spilled out the door due to the availability of only two windows to transact payments. Many times, said City Engineer Toby Wells, people resorted to standing in line out of the building and sometimes exposing them to inclement weather. There were also no restroom facilities readily available for those waiting.

By remodeling the old chambers, the city has created a lobby with five pay stations so that bill payers can be protected from the heat and cold and rain. Restrooms are located just outside the room, too.

Typically it's those making a last-minute in-person cash payment to avoid a water service shut-off who form the lines at City Hall. In cases where the water bill payment is not late, city officials noted that residents can pay their water and sewer bills through the city's website, With online bill pay, resident may:

• Get email notification when a billing statement is available;

• Access utility bills online;

• Access a billing statement history online;

• Pay a bill quickly and economically

• Sign up for automatic pay and never pay late.

There is also a drive-up utility bill payment box located on the corner of Second and Magnolia streets near City Hall. A traffic lane on the right side of the box allows users to easily deposit payments from the driver's side of a vehicle.

The City of Ceres Finance Department accepts VISA and MasterCard debit and credit cards for payments at the customer service counter.