ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alonzo Hill is a proud Air Force veteran and happily married to his wife Helen for two decades.
But he wasn’t very happy when he opened his water bill in July.
The usually $75 to $80 expense had jumped to $2,791! Alonzo immediately knew something was wrong and said there was no way he could or would pay the shocking bill.
“Why would I pay something I don’t owe,” Alonzo told 10Investigates reporter Jennifer Titus.
We took his bill to the city of St. Pete to get answers. City leaders were as surprised as we were at the bill.
“Clearly there was a mistake. He was charged several thousand dollars and that clearly didn’t match with what his usage was,” City of St. Pete Spokesperson Ben Kirby told us.
The city checked Alonzo’s meter and didn’t find anything wrong with it. Kirby tells 10Investigates there are several things they investigate for, like checking to see if someone is stealing water from the individual or if the meter is malfunctioning. Kirby says neither of those were the case here.
“Sometimes the meters bad. Sometimes the meter readers, for as good as a job as they do, there can be human error there,” Kirby said.
He went on to tell us the city of St. Pete sends out 95,000 water bills a month so the possibility of someone making a mistake can be an issue. To crack down on potential mistakes, Kirby says the city will be updating their technology.
“We’re actually looking at software that’s going to help them minimize that error in the future," Kirby explained.
Alonzo finally received a letter in the mail informing him that his issue has been resolved, and he is no longer responsible for that nearly $3,000 bill. The Hills expressed their gratitude when Jennifer Titus showed up at their home to tell them the good news.
“Wonderful and I appreciate what you guys did for us. Without that, probably wouldn’t have happened,” Helen Hill told Jennifer Titus.
An outrageous bill can happen to anyone. Before you pay it, question it. Call your city if your usual bill seems too high.
And, call us if you can’t get answers. Send our team an email at Turnto10@wtsp.com!
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