by Jeff Taylor
I see that CMUD boss Doug Bean today avails himself of the same UPoR op-ed spot that Parks Helms used to try to make his case for doing such a great job for the public at-large. The nut of Bean’s spin:
We have tested our water meters and are verifying our results through independent testing. We are replacing any equipment we find to be faulty. We are assigning more people to review bills before they go out and most importantly go into the field to verify all equipment is working properly. We will enhance communication tools and processes as we work with customers to help figure out why a bill may be high.
High bills happen – typically during the summer and fall. With more lawn watering, bills increase. To protect our water supply, conservation rates charge more for irrigation water than for essential water uses like drinking, bathing and cleaning. The second common reason for high bills is from leaks inside homes and in irrigation systems. A typical toilet leak can waste 100 gallons per day or more!
Sometimes we make a mistake. The 250,000 bills sent out each month are more than 99 percent accurate, but errors can occur due to human error or a problem with the electronic device that reads the meter. When any mistake happens, we find the problem, we fix it and the customer’s bill is corrected. We try to review every bill before it goes out, and even visit customers to review a high bill before it goes out. Nearly all of the time, errors are found and fixed before a bill is even sent. Advancements in meter reading technology allow us to read 250,000 meters using two meter readers and two trucks, instead of 50 meter readers and 50 trucks under the traditional process. Our billing accuracy has increased and our operating costs are far lower now – a savings that benefits the rate-payers who support this utility.
OK, fair enough. Now show us your CMUD bills, Doug. If they show anywhere from a 60 to 150 percent increase in recent years (for the same household size and home, if that is indeed the case) then we’ll know that such increases are indeed CMUD normal and it is what Charlotte city council intended when they hiked rates a few years ago to help CMUD close a $30m. revenue hole which imperiled its debt rating. Then we can have an intelligent discussion about the wisdom of this policy.
But if CMUD’s director has not seen those kinds of increases, doesn’t that put us back to square one?
Bonus Observation: I would also accept Pat McCrory’s CMUD bills over the years. I know he has lived in the same house with the same number of people.
Update: Here is WBTV detailing CMUD’s claim that a family of three could suddenly have a $200+ water bill. CMUD shut their water off.