NC - Some city water users due refund : LUSENET : Y2K discussion group : One Thread

By: Roxana Schaefer, Staff writer January 17, 2002 LUMBERTON - City residents who were overcharged for water and sewer in November and December will receive a refund on their next bill, according to City Manager Todd Powell.

Powell said that a rate increase, which was scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, was accidentally levied on some city customers' January bills for November and December usages. Powell, who looked into the matter after The Robesonian called it to his attention, apologized for the error.

All customers who have received a January bill - about one-fourth of the city's utility customers - were billed at the wrong date. The bills have a billing date of Jan. 9, 2001, instead of Jan. 9, 2002.

"We are going to make adjustments to the District 1 customers, we're not going to resend the bills," said Bob Arrington, the City's Public Services director in charge of billing. "It will show up as a credit on their next bill."

There were several utility rate increases that took effect Jan. 1. They were approved last year as part of the current fiscal year's budget, but they did not take effect until 2002.

Water rates increased 58 percent for the first 3,000 gallons of usage, from $4.65 to $7.95 a month. Sewer-rate increases don't come into effect until usage surpasses 1 million gallons.

A misunderstanding between the City Council and the billing department is at the center of the matter.

"The increases could very legitimately be put into effect like this, but what we did was not what the council intended," Arrington said. He said the council intended to increase the rates effective Jan. 1 but that his department thought the council intended for the increase to be effective with January bills.

Powell guesses that about 2,500 city customers received the wrong bills.

Powell said that the water rate increases, which were voted on at the council's retreat last January, were to defray the cost of water plant improvements beginning this month.

There was also an increase in electricity, which city officials say is to pass along a 6 percent wholesale cost increase that the city must pay.

"Increases are a necessity of life so we can keep our resources up to date," Arrington said.

-- Anonymous, February 17, 2002

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