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Plateau Utility to close Sunbright office

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By Michelle Hollenhead

On the heels of the five year mark since Plateau Utility merged with Sunbright Utility, plans have been announced that the Sunbright office will close as of Sept. 1.

That move is the direct result of Wartburg’s purchase of the former Region’s Bank Building, where the utility will be sharing office space.

Plateau Utility has already been sharing space at the current city hall; while it does not pay the city rent, it does process the billing for the Wartburg Sewer Department, said Plateau Utility’s General Manager Mike Monroe.

With more room at the new facility — which is still undergoing renovation before either entity moves in — Monroe said, “it just makes sense to streamline our operations.”

Two employees currently staff the Sunbright office, and Monroe said “no worker will lose their jobs by closing the office.

“We are not getting rid of any staff,” he reiterated.

The Sunbright office has been open since that city’s water department merged with Plateau Utility five years ago.

Just after the merger, Sunbright area residents expressed concern that the office might close, Monroe recalled.

“And, at the time, I said, ‘there is no crystal ball — we will leave it open unless it becomes more cost-effective to close it.’”

That opportunity has presented itself with the new offices that are available at the bank building.

With more room, it will allow for the two Sunbright employees to join those already located in Wartburg.

“That will also help with some issues that have been discussed with our auditors,” Monroe said Friday.

“For some time now, they have encouraged us to segregate [the employees’] duties, and we can certainly do that by consolidating the offices.”

It would be a cost saving for the Utility, too.

“Right now, we are paying utilities and other expenses for two offices,” he said. “We wouldn’t have two sets of bills any more.”

As for those who might feel they are losing their hometown office, Monroe said there are several methods of payment offered that would not require anyone to make the drive to Wartburg,

“You can mail a check, call us and pay with a debit

card, or auto draft at the bank, for example.”

Right now, Monroe said about 25 percent of the utility’s business is conducted at the Sunbright office, with the other 75 percent being handled in Wartburg.

This move “just makes good business sense,” Monroe said.