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Porterdale residents report water bill errors
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 Residents of the Kenzi Place subdivision in Porterdale are concerned about the billing process for their water and sewage services and believe the city is not working with them to resolve their grievances.

Orel Beckford and his neighbor Tonya Johnson claim there are discrepancies in their water bills and want to get them fixed before they become out of control.

"I haven't received a bill for a year," said Tonya Johnson. "We moved out for about five days a year ago then we moved right back in. Since then, I haven't received a bill."

City Manager Tom Fox said he would look into the matter but added if people need help or have a concern, they can visit city hall and speak with his staff. He also urged residents to file complaints in writing and address them to him personally.

"We want to make sure everyone is getting billed correctly," said Fox. "If we make a mistake, we will always make the necessary corrections."

According to Johnson, the only thing she has received is a blue tag on her door that stated she owed $846. She says she's willing to pay her bills, but needs to get them first.

One resident did have a mistake on a bill. Jonathan Johnson, a neighbor who lives around the cul-de-sac from Beckford and Tonya Johnson, received a bill in January for $2,135. The bill stated Johnson used 179,910 gallons of water.

The error came from the addition of a zero at the end of the reading, resulting in the inaccurate number

Beckford contends the city did not make Johnson pay the bill as they realized they made a mistake reading the meter.

"Errors do happen from time to time," admitted Fox. "Some of the meters require the technician to input the reading manually. So in that instance, the numbers were wrong. Numbers are entered into a computer and the bills are electronically transmitted, so something like that may not be caught until the customer receives the bill."

Fox said the city normally checks the meters once a month, but if a customer believes his usage is wrong, a technician usually returns to check the meter to make sure everything is in working order and that there are no leaks.

With a population of approximately 1,800, the only revenue generating services Porterdale provides residents are water and sanitation services. Power is subleased through Georgia Power and phone and cable are provided directly through independent companies.

Porterdale has written off uncollected water bills in the past. But Fox said the city is trying to be more proactive and has stepped up its collections efforts.

"We have the staff in place now to allow us to focus more on those areas," he said. "Checks still trickle in for those uncollected bills and we are working with our CPA so we don't have a large amount of uncollected bills lingering."

Ultimately Fox said city employees work with customers and are happy to talk to them about any billing problems.

"We have, at times, had to explain the breakdown of the bills to customers," he said. "Many times they don't understand the charges or may not realize that they had company over, and that's why a bill is a little bit higher. But we will continue to help customers to make sure their bills are correct."