$2,000 water bill concerns Peabody Health and Rehab
Peabody Health and Rehab employees were shocked by a $2,000 water bill and said so during Peabody’s City Council meeting Monday.
The company uses 78,736 gallons of water a month, with 41 residents, but received a bill for mid-February to mid-March listing 300,000 gallons.
“We budget $500 a month and it’s going to fluctuate both ways,” said Shane Marler, a public relations employee. “Some months it’s going to be $400 and sometimes it will be $600. It’s never going to be $2,000.”
It could have been a problem with one of the business’ water meters, Marler said. A water leak was unlikely since the sewer system was recently replaced, and the numbers began falling again in March, Marler said.
“If it’s a leak, why is it getting less and less,” he said. “If it’s a leak, it’s going to keep going up. That’s the way water works.”
Ronnie Harms, with the public works department, said he would keep an eye on the readings, and possibly test the meter in the future. The council did not want to buy a new meter immediately since it would be a $1,300 charge to the company, when the cause of the high meter reading is still unknown.
“It’s like someone turned on the hydrant from the exterior of your building and let it run for a month,” mayor Tom Spencer said.
The extra money, $1,600 above the company’s monthly average, would be credited to its account, city clerk Jylle Wilson said.
Changes were made to the city’s billing policy to cut down the number of insufficient checks written for water bills.
Residents could write up to three insufficient checks per year, at which point they had to make cash payments for a year.
The new policy will only allow two insufficient checks a year before a resident is penalized, at which point payments must be cash-only, for three years. Residents can ask to have their check payment reinstated after a year.
Wilson received permission to seek out a new credit card provider for the city. The current provider, Elan Financial Services, recently deposited a payment of more than $10,000 into one of the city’s accounts, and refused to accept that it was an incorrect transaction, she said.
“In the four months of 2019, there have been seven payments made to our account, and I’ve only made three,” she said. “This last one has me very concerned with this company and their accounting ability.”
None of the incorrect credits have been used by the city, and Wilson said she would send back a check for the recent deposit.
“I continue to pay them what I need to, so I know our other three accounts are correct,” she said.
Resident Jimmy Tennant offered to update the city’s website. Tennant said he could make it more user friendly by making it a Word Press site, and would accept the same rate the city pays to have it maintained now.
“We could make it more mobile friendly and modernize it,” he said. “It looks like it’s from the early 2000s.”
Marler, who was the city’s economic development director when the current site was commissioned, said he was able to use it on his phone prior to Monday’s meeting.
“It isn’t mobile friendly, but it does work on mobile,” he said. “It could certainly use a redesign.”
Tennant was invited to Peabody’s next economic development meeting.