I live in District 4 and would like to inform you of my opinions regarding the water billing error issue that has been in the news lately. I understand that some customers have been undercharged for their City water usage and that the council is considering back charging these customers. I am adamantly opposed to this idea if the error was made on the part of the City. The City essentially operates a monopoly and is free to set utility fee rates within reason. When the City then sends a bill for said services, the customer has a reasonable right to assume that the bill is accurate.
Furthermore, they come to rely on the anticipated future expense based upon their prior usage history for budgetary purposes. If the customer is overcharged through no fault of their own, they have a right to expect a refund. However, if they were undercharged through no fault of their own, the City has no right to back-charge them which essentially amounts to extortion. The error was likely caused by an employee, and appropriate measures should be taken against said employee if appropriate. The problem ultimately lies with the employees’ superiors who failed to exercise sufficient oversight, and I would hope that, going forward, a better system would be employed to prevent this embarrassing situation from arising in the future. Notices should be sent out to all customers advising them of the increase with an explanation of the past error. If the billing errors were caused by fraudulent actions of the customers, then the City should pursue all legal avenues to collect the amount owned including punitive damages if appropriate.
I hope that you will consider my comments in making your decision on this matter. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or wish to discuss this matter further. Thank you.
686 Breckenridge Drive
Port Orange, FL 32127