by Jeff Taylor
The more Charlotte city council pokes around CMUD’s billing practices, the more little nuggets fall out. Like this one from the UPoR’s coverage of CMUD exec Denise Foreman last night trying to tell council what is going on:
Foreman said the rate increases can also make high bills go higher. A water bill that would have been $47.23 prior to April 2008 would now be $76.44 — an increase of more than 60 percent.
Recall that back in 2008 CMUD suddenly discovered that a slowdown in new construction hookup revenue along with on-off watering restrictions imposed during droughts meant that the utility was in danger of missing its debt covenant number by some $30m. The solution CMUD sold to city council, hike base rates by 14 percent.
So how did we end up with bill increases of 50 percent or more across the county? This still mysterious element is in addition to what plainly seems to be some sort of widespread malfunction of the electronic equipment CMUD uses to transmit meter readings. There is simply no other rational explanation for sudden water bills of $500 or $1000.
After last night’s meeting we also have confirmation that CMUD does estimate bills on occasion, if the meter is physically blocked off by a vehicle. But CMUD says that only happens a few hundred times a month, total.
What we are left with then is an abiding mystery. I believe it will have a long and boisterous run in the QC.