Enquirer Herald

Missing water bills upset residents

YORK -- Amid complaints about a new increase in the utility base rates, several York residents were left wondering what happened to their July water bills.

In some instances, several residents received duplicate bills, while many others didn't receive a bill at all.

Leonard Mathieu, who moved to York with his wife within the last year, was among the many who didn't receive a July bill, but was still charged a penalty when their latest bill arrived in the mail. Mathieu and his wife were stunned to learn they'd missed a payment and worried it would create a mark against their credit. He addressed York City Council last week, and wanted to know just what had happened.

"We didn't get a first notice and now we're paying a penalty for something we didn't even get a first notice on," Mathieu said.

Interim City Manager Charles Helms said there would be no marks against anyone's credit because of the missed bills. He attributed the problem to software glitches and printer failures, which caused some bills to be duplicated, while others were not printed at all. Helms said the city's billing journal was reviewed prior to mailing the July statements to make sure all current customers were listed, and they were. This usually suggests that all customers have received a bill.

In addition, the post office counts the number of bills for accounting purposes, and did not uncover a discrepancy either. But still some customers did not receive their bills.

"The numbers were tracking the whole way," Helms said after the meeting. "We looked at the billing journal and everybody was on it, so we assumed everyone would get their bill."

Helms informed the residents at the meeting that meters are read on the 10th of the month and bills go out on the 30th or 31st. He encourages anyone who does not receive a bill at the beginning of the month to call City Hall anytime, since all accounts are in City Hall's database.

Since the meeting, Helms met with Mathieu and corrected the error on his account. He said bills have been mailed again this month with no problems.

Mayor Eddie Lee was in favor of waving penalties in this particular situation, but said residents should be alert to when bills are mailed and payments are due.

The bottom line, he says, is that the city is committed to providing uninterrupted billings.