Water usage increases discussed at annual WSCK meeting

Published 3:24 pm Friday, June 28, 2019

At the annual meeting of the Water Service Corporation of Kentucky several community members gathered to voice their concerns over their latest water bills.

Brittany Martin saw an increase in her water bill that has reached 35,900 gallons of water.

“So I get a bill this month saying that I have used 35,900 gallons of water,” Martin expressed. “There is absolutely no way.”

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Martin explained that she called the 1-800 number provided and that someone came to check the meter and they said the meter reading is accurate.

“There is no leak, I know I don’t have a leak so how did 36,000 gallons pass through my meter,” she asked. “I’m not the only one with this problem. Someone with property that is not even in use read 14,000 gallons passed through. Something is definitely going on.”

Justin Kersey, vice president of operations, explained that the meter does not make up numbers and that sometimes a meter reader will go back out and investigate to make sure the read they captured was accurate.

“The meter does not fabricate numbers,” he said. “A leaky toilet, a running faucet, things like that, the numbers don’t make any sense and we certainly can investigate it.”

Other community members expressed seeing the same pattern on their bills.

Kersey asked that those wanting to look at their bills and discuss it at length could come up following the meeting to go over specific details.

Middlesboro City Mayor Rick Nelson spoke before the meeting ended in regards to the changes that citizens have seen on their bills.

“As you first know when we first came into office we raised our sewer rates,” Nelson said. “For 4,000 gallons it went up to $22 from $13 and was a $9 increase.”

He continued to explain that if you use 4,000 gallons of sewage the bill would have still gone up $9.

“Now, if you use more than four, if you use 63,000 gallons, it’s going to be more,” Nelson joked. “We didn’t want to raise sewage rates but the hand that was dealt to us when we came in we had to do that.

He did explain that the council wanted to make sure that our sewer rates are lower than anywhere and read off a list of sewage rates for surrounding communities to show that Middlesboro was kept at a minimum.

“I want to remind everybody that your sewer bill is based on how many gallons of water you use,” he said. “If the water company says you used 10,000 gallons of water, that’s what it computes.”

He gave an example of having to call them six times to correct errors for them and that it was a simple two line fix.

“I just wonder if it is a computer error or computer spreadsheet and hitting the wrong button,” Nelson suggested. “We’ve got a few people with 63,000 gallon bills. How can you go from 5,000 to 36,000 gallons? So, I think you ought to take a good close look at that.”

He also gave his compliments on the local workers that work in the community.

“Any comments that anyone makes is not directed to you because you are fantastic,” he said. “You do a good job and I still think that we have some of the best water maybe in the area.”

Nelson feels strongly that looking at the bills is something that does need to be looked at through the corporate office.

“I think another thing is customer’s service and we used to have an office in Middlesboro,” he said. “We will give you an office in city hall if you will train one of these men to come one day a week and listen to adjustments and bills.”

The mayor said they would supply a phone for them if they would send someone to Middlesboro.

“We appreciate you local guys and I think you do a wonderful job but there is something wrong with the computer somewhere when a person gets billed for 37,000 and I would hope the corporate office would have enough gumption to say we’ve made a mistake here and we are going to change it,” Nelson expressed.

It was reiterated at the meeting that if you have higher than normal water usage showing on your bill to call 844-310-5556. The meter read will be investigated and if the usage changes, it will be reflected in the billed amount on the sewage.