How to Read Your Utility Bill

  1. Address the utilities are at.
  2. Date the bill was printed.
  3. Bill information
    • PREV BALANCE – balance from the previous month.
    • PENALTIES – any penalties accrued the previous month from late bills.
    • PAYMENTS – any payments made from the last bill date to the date this bill was printed.
    • BALANCE – rollover balance from the previous month. This can include a credit amount (a credit amount means you have paid more than your bill has been).
    • DEBT SERV – monthly Debt Service Fee everyone who has sewer is required to pay for the new Wastewater Treatment Facility. Amounts vary by meter size.
    • WTR CONN – Safe Drinking Water Connection Fee the MN Department of Health requires every household with a water connection to pay.
    • ELECTRIC – includes the monthly service fee and usage charges.
    • FRANFEE – A Franchise Fee is the rent that a utility pays to the City to use the right of way for its lines, poles, transformers, etc. The fee helps the City pay for maintenance of the streets, right of ways, and easements that utilities operate within.
    • WATER – includes the monthly service fee and usage charges. Your usage may not equal the present reading minus the previous reading. Most residential water meters have a multiplier of 10 on it, so after subtracting the reading you have to multiply it by 10.
    • SEWER – includes the monthly service fee and usage charges based off the water usage.
    • TAX – The state sales tax rate in Minnesota is currently 6.875%. Todd County and Wadena County have a sales tax of 0.50%.
    • CURRENT CHARGES – This only shows up if you have a past balance, whether that’s money owed or a credit on the account. This line shows the current charges for the month, not the total amount due.
  4. Amount that is due by the due date shown.
  5. Amount that is due if not paid by the displayed due date.
  6. Meter reading dates. We read middle of the month to middle of the month. Reading dates may vary by several days compared to the previous month.
  7. Account number.
  8. Mailing address.


If you bill has a negative amount in the “AMOUNT DUE NOW” section (ex. 126.23 -) that means you have a credit balance. A credit means the account has been overpaid, and you have credit amount left to go towards future bills. It does not mean you owe this amount. In addition to the negative amount, your bill will say “CREDIT BALANCE”.

City of Staples | 122 6th Street NE Staples, MN 56479 | 218-894-2550 | Photos provided by the Staples World.