In Washington and New York its normal to drop your spin or bad news on a Friday, so much the better if you can squeeze your news under a snow storm. And so it was that CMUD Director Doug Bean confessed to Charlotte that CMUD has some billing issues.
CMUD has been under siege since the Observer and other media sources started a tsunami regarding high water bills and poor customer service.
If you have been a victim of CMUD as I have you might have felt you were the only one. At least that is how the people at CMUD made you feel.
In Friday's Observer Mr. Bean admits there is a problem at least with customer service. His response to the Observer's Wednesday editorial is here
John Grooms in "Boomer with an Attitude" blogs about the same thing, and in fact he says he too has been a victim of outrageous unexplainable high water bills :
I bring you good news of a miracle! The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD), historically one of the touchiest, most thin-skinned governmental service agencies on the planet, has now admitted that they’ve caused problems for customers. If you’ve ever tried to get CMUD to admit to a mistake, you’ll know what a miracle it is that CMUD Director Doug Bean came out from behind his curtain today in the daily paper.
The rest of his blog is here.
I have long suspected that CMUD guessed when it couldn't get real numbers. The up and down crazy water bills never made sense, but in the past because the rates were nearly half of what they are today it wasn't a big enough difference to get me all worked up.
But then they added tiered pricing and a couple of big rate increases.
So let assume they miss read the meter in July and August and my bill was half of what is should be each month, and then in September they got a real reading and "made up the difference" but in doing so it knocked me into the highest rate level. Still back four years ago not a big deal until they doubled the rates. So what was a 30 dollar spike to play catch up has now become a 80 dollar spike.
And that my friends is why the sudden out cry. What has been a problem for years is now being noticed by everyone because of the rate increases.
Myself, my tenants, my parents, my neighbors and you have all been victims of this scam.
But wait just a second CMUD is not through with you, just yet.
Let's assume that indeed CMUD has been making all these errors and has over charged us all these years. Since the people who complained got nothing but lip service when they called CMUD and the rest of Charlotte never even noticed that they were being ripped off a few dollars here and there. Either by outright fraud (water you paid for but didn't get) or by accounting fraud (they inflated the numbers and you just paid more for the water you did get) you where getting hosed and now they are sorry and they are going to FIX it!
A little quick math 250,000 bills per month with a 1% error rate and an average error amount of $78.00, equals $2.5 million a year!
OK that's not chicken feed, but CMUD says 150,000 of the meters have a 6.4% error rate that is 9750 meters reporting wrong numbers every month with an average error amount of $78.00 and that equals $9.5 Million a Year! or nearly 5% of the annual budget.
Guess what kidos, we'll looking at another rate increase to make up the difference and another rate increase on top of that to pay for the new equiptment and staff to get the billing process right!