FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Some River Valley residents are seeing their water bills skyrocket.
Two years ago, Fort Smith started replacing thousands of water meters because they were old and not giving accurate readings, but the city just recently started using a new billing program resulting in some super high water bills.
“I have a $4,300 water bill, but I've seen water bills from $220 all the way up to $800 dollars,” resident Amanda Kennedy said.
Kennedy was sent a $4,300 water bill this month. She said her water bill averages from $40 to $60 a month. She knows it's a mistake but wishes the city had a way to flag high bills like hers.
“Computer programs aren't perfect, and neither are human beings however I would feel more confident if instead of hiring six customer service agents, they hired a couple people to also look at these excessive bills,” she said.
Fort Smith Utilities Director Jerry Walters said they've found the problem. He says that when they put a new meter in, the meter wasn't talking to the new billing program correctly — creating the unusually high bills.
“What happens when we get a call from a customer that has a bill like this, we will investigate the account to make sure the meter is installed properly and it's not leaking,” he said.
In Amanda’s case, she did have a leak that complicated things even further.
After she had the leak fixed and spoke with the city, they adjusted her bill from $4,300 down to $138.
Walters said they will work with the customer to adjust their water bill if they're also having issues with the new meters.
“When you get a bill like this call us, you do not pay this bill. We have suspended late fees and things like that so people aren't penalized for not pay their bill. That will give us an opportunity to work with them to correct it,” Walters said.
The city said they are working with the vendor of the program to correct the problem.