Many county water customers were shocked when they opened their most recent bill, which showed in some cases double the amount owed in a normal month.
According to Pickens County Water & Sewer Director Larry Coleman, there was an issue with the billing program that pulled balances from 2008, with total amounts due reflecting a previous month’s balance and a current month’s balance.
“So they had double the cost in many cases,” Coleman said. “Some had a smaller balance, but many had more.”
Coleman said their office received calls or walk-ins from 700 to 800 customers on the very first day statements were received.
The director said he has been in touch with programmers, but they are still uncertain about the cause of the mishap.
“We can’t find out what caused it,” he said. “We’re working on it.”
Coleman said each month the office manually checks the first few bills to ensure they are accurate, but this month, “something happened with the program after those first ones we checked.”
Coleman noted that bills were also sent to customers who have left the county water system since 2008, and others who have entered since that time received no bill at all.
“But we’ve got a call fire system, which we can send out calls to everyone,” he said. “We told them to disregard this bill and that a new one would be on the way. We’ve have apologized to everyone, and most of them are being understanding.”
Coleman said by using this rapid call alert system, they department has been able to contact 95 percent of county water customers.
The department, Coleman said, has reprinted all 2,500 bills and has manually checked each statement to be sure they are correct.
“We are on our way to send them to the post office right now,” Coleman said mid Friday afternoon, May 6.
Because of the mess up, due dates will be extended this month, but Coleman was unsure about new cutoff dates.
“I’m going to sit down with the commissioner and talk about that,” he said. “But we’ve got everything straightened out.”