Originally created 07/11/98

Water billing cycle off because of new system



As if Augusta didn't have enough trouble with its water department, a new billing system has some water customers complaining their bills are higher than normal.

The billing cycle was off because of the new system, adding about a week to last month's bill, said Utilities Director Max Hicks.

"In some instances, we were not able to get the cycles exactly as they were before because of the new billing system," Mr. Hicks said. "We were working out the bugs.

"At my house, I think the cycle was about six or seven days longer than it normally would have been. And my bill was higher than it normally would have been because of that difference in cycle. Next time it will be less because we're going to get back on the normal cycle days."

The former city of Augusta had one system, and the county had another, and although the government has been consolidated for more than two years it was still operating on separate systems.

Mr. Hicks, for example, who lives in the urban district, could not pay his bill at the water department on Peach Orchard Road where he works. He paid it at the water office in the Municipal Building, he said.

"Obviously, we needed to be on one billing system, so that people could pay their bills wherever," he said. "And that's what people wanted."

There also may be a few mistakes in this billing, but that is not unusual, nor are complaints that bills are higher than they should be, Mr. Hicks said.

"There might have been mistakes made, but by the same token you always have people who say, `I was out of town and couldn't have used that much water,' he said.

"That's no different now than it's ever been. It's just when people get a different billing format, they say, `It's got to be the bill.' And it may or may not be."



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