Avoid Water Bill Errors in Future

The Ohio Auditor’s office is being asked to take a look at a problem involving water billing in St. Clairsville, Mayor Terry Pugh said this week. Good. Someone ought to find out how the error, which began in 2015, persisted for so long.

St. Clairsville officials plan to increase rates for a few large-volume users of municipal water, it was revealed this week. City Council members are expected to clear the change for implementation by March.

City Service and Safety Director James Zucal explained that since 2015, erroneous meter reading information has allowed about 25 users of large quantities of water to pay less than they should have. Users of 7,000 gallons of water or more a month may be affected.

“There’ll be a significant increase this year” for customers in that category, Zucal said. Meanwhile, residential customers will get a break on their bills.

An automated meter reading system installed in 2015 is being blamed for high-volume users being underbilled.

In noting the state auditor’s office is being asked to check into the problem, Pugh said it appears to involve incompatible computer software.

But how was it that no one in municipal government spotted the discrepancy? No one has said just how much the oversight cost St. Clairsville, but, given the amount of water involved, it probably was significant.

City officials should ask the auditor’s office to make this project a priority. Perhaps by discovering just what went wrong, similar errors can be avoided in the future.