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Augusta Utilities billing cycle shift means extra water bill

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 8:43 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 1:56 PM
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Boswell Lamkin was accustomed to his Augusta Utilities bill being due on the same day of every month – the 15th – for years.

So when he received two bills this month – one he paid Feb. 6 and a second, due March 1 that he paid Tuesday, the retired engineer realized he’ll be charged for an extra month this year.

“This month, I got hit twice with a payment,” Lamkin said. “Why should we be on the hook for an extra bill?”

Augusta Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier admitted Tuesday that Lamkin and most other water and sewer customers will receive an extra “monthly” bill at some point between last July and this April.

To shorten customer billing cycles from 56 days to around 30, a move approved by the Augusta Commission last year, the department is moving the varied due dates of each customer’s bill back by two days each month, he said.

Lamkin said the department made him aware his billing cycle was changing but didn’t mention the extra monthly payment.

“Moving of the due date was where the deception was,” he said.

Wiedmeier denied the changes were intended to squeeze an extra payment out of Utilities’ customers, but that the billing cycle adjustments had to be done and “it was the best way we could figure out how to do it.”

The shorter cycle will allow customers to better associate their water bills with recent consumption, to avoid confusion and help detect leaks, Wiedmeier told The Augusta Chronicle last year.

The extra payments add up, however. If all the city’s approximately 51,000 residential water and sewer customers pay a single extra bill at the minimum base rate – $40.15 – during the 10-month transition period, that’s an extra $2 million for the utilities department, which reinvests collected water and sewer fees into the service.

City water and sewer rates vary based on consumption. Residential customers who use more than 3,000 gallons of water per month pay a higher base rate of $41.31. Residential customers who don’t have sewer services – about 12,000 of them – pay a base water rate of $21.14.

Commercial customers, who also have seen their billing cycle adjusted, pay one of 10 base monthly rates from $43.97 to $1,530, based on meter size.

Wiedmeier said city staff tried to be conscious of people on fixed incomes, and those whose water and sewer bill payment is automatically drafted but weren’t prepared for the number of customers who can’t make the second payment because they pay their monthly bills from a single monthly check. The city is waiving late fees and allowing customers who can’t afford the second bill to make incremental payments, he said.

“That’s affected more than I thought it would,” Wiedmeier said.

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dichotomy
29763
Points
dichotomy 02/26/14 - 08:52 am
6
0
"“That’s affected more than I

"“That’s affected more than I thought it would,” Wiedmeier said."

Have you noticed that whenever a city department head starts thinking the residents get screwed by paying more for something. Wiedmeier starts "thinking" and you get to pay an extra inflated "base" price water bill. Mark Johnson starts "thinking" and you get to pay DOUBLE what your garbage service should cost. Ladson starts "thinking" and they want us to pay a Rain Tax. And then there is Lockett who "thinks" our property taxes aren't high enough. Obviously he does not own any of this "pending explosive growth", forcibly rezoned (by another "thinking" ding bat department head) "Residential" taxed former Agricultural property in the South Richmond County Section 8 dumping ground that you cannot sell for anywhere near tax value.

Hey guys....QUIT THINKING.....I can't afford it anymore.

And oh yeh.....the commissioners should not have ASKED the departments to trim their budgets. They should have pulled up last years budget, did an across the board adjustment to all departments to match the anticipated revenue....and TOLD the departments what they would be getting. I would not have given the Sheriff or any other department an opportunity to grandstand and force a tax increase. Of course, IT WOULD HELP if you commissioners would quit spending all of the money on BS downtown development and "redevelopment", DDA, studies, and consultants.

tgentry
224
Points
tgentry 02/26/14 - 09:14 am
5
0
Water Bills

Here we go again. I have noticed that the water meter reader once again is not reading my meter. I used to have a house hold of 4 and now it has been 3 for 2 months. My water bill did not decrease one iota. I see the dirt once again has accumulated inside the meter can. I would like to know how is it the water utilities can just guess on what you actually use.

They will look at what they charged the year before in the same time period and assume that you are using that same amount. Now you want us to pay another months bill. Who in the heck is running the water department? Maybe they need a audit done on them.

nocnoc
37317
Points
nocnoc 02/26/14 - 09:15 am
4
0
Snuck another one in there

Wonder how much MORE $$$$ ARC collected by changing the billing cycle, while getting to avoid calling it fee or tax increase?

nocnoc
37317
Points
nocnoc 02/26/14 - 09:16 am
2
0
BTW:

How much did the Mayor and Commission drain from the Water Works fund some 10 years ago, to play Santa with?

Robcat75
8
Points
Robcat75 02/26/14 - 10:01 am
3
0
Shame

I also was shocked when this started went first to Aug. Uti. off. complained that they could change to suit them selves but not to help me as on SS. Inc. I asked years ago to change because of check coming on 3rd.They Could not leave it on 4th. due date as I've had since 1985, as he my check is on the 3rd. & now will have late fees they waved the first one. So went to Mayor's office, Sec, states Mayor is aware & has & will bring back before commisioners, never heard a word. Even contacted TV stations. Hit me hard that first month with 2 bills & I also paid 2 bills for my son whom is diabled, of course didn't have enough to do all at once but was hit w/ all but 1 late fee. God is good & provedes I was finally able to get caught up. But as I complained to all of them what about all the other people on fixed inc. checks?? Nothing seen till now. SHAME AUGUSTA

Little Lamb
43370
Points
Little Lamb 02/26/14 - 10:23 am
1
0
Tacky

That was sneaky how they pulled the due date forward a few days each month. I got caught late one month and had to pay a late fee while the dates were changing.

reader54
120
Points
reader54 02/26/14 - 10:48 am
4
0
calculating

Wiedmeier denied the changes were intended to squeeze an extra payment out of Utilities’ customers, but that the billing cycle adjustments had to be done and “it was the best way we could figure out how to do it.”
"while getting $2,000,000 more from the idiots" This was probably the complete ending of Weidmeier's quote. Just saying, business as usual.

Buckys Friend
107
Points
Buckys Friend 02/26/14 - 01:22 pm
3
0
ARC is "proud" of their

ARC is "proud" of their water! No matter how many times you call them, it does no good. There are 2 people in my household and they sometimes say we use 13,000 gallons a month

showboat
302
Points
showboat 02/26/14 - 03:10 pm
0
0
What a dang joke!!!!
Unpublished

What a dang joke!!!!

corgimom
26084
Points
corgimom 02/26/14 - 04:40 pm
0
0
Lori Davis is going to be

Lori Davis is going to be LIVID over this.

allhans
22962
Points
allhans 02/26/14 - 06:05 pm
2
0
I wouldn't mind the billing

I wouldn't mind the billing if I could get water that I can drink.

jack2006
89
Points
jack2006 02/26/14 - 06:36 pm
1
0
Fuzzy Math?

Are we paying for 365 days per calendar year?

Or 365 days per calendar year plus another month billing cycle for the year?

If so, this is FRAUD!

For that manners, all utilities can charge an extra month for the year. If we have leaders agreeing to this, we are all doom with these utilities corruptions.

Don't get me started on the trash bill. Don't like to bet but they will call for an increase this year comes tax time. It's another FRAUD being committed on the tax payers.

Still waiting on these pot holes to be fix or roads that are overdue from needing to be paved again after 28 years of usage and no maintenance.

Tidy up this City with the money that the tax payers have already paid for. If you aren't going to do the projects that the money was collected for, then return it back to the tax payers or stop collecting for them. This is an easy way for the City to commit FRAUD.

We are paying for one thing, never sees it, the money goes somewhere else, or the money collected never see the light of day for anything.

If I am wrong about this, let me know. I haven't seem any results to make a difference in the City.

Richmond County: Where is the money?

We can do better. It's more than enough money being collected in this county for it to be served from one end to the other end without any problems.

like-it-is
212
Points
like-it-is 02/27/14 - 01:01 am
0
0
jack2006

you, are on POINT. enough said

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