Parlier water bills spike after clerical error

August 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Business owners in Parlier are angry after a big spike in their water bills. Many are afraid the new rates are too high to even afford.

Business owners ABC30 spoke with are upset the city only gave them a few days' notice before hiking their bills. Now they're worried that dramatic increase could force them to shut down their business.

Dari Snak Drive-In is a little mom and pop operation owned by Jose Jimenez and his wife Martha.

On Taco Tuesday, both were stunned about a water bill from the city of Parlier.

Jose said, "Before it's like 90-94 dollars a month and now we get a new bill about 280 dollars, it's a lot."

Every commercial business and school in the city will now have to pay much pricier statements. The reason: a clerical error made by a city worker, back in 2007.

Interim City Manager Shun Patlan said, "One of the staff members inputted the decimal point in the wrong place."

Patlan told ABC30, six years ago the council approved a water bill hike. But no one paid up, because no one caught the mathematical mistake, until recently.

"It is going to be a burden to our water consumers but we are not going to take it lightly," added Patlan.

In July the city slapped Diane Jensen who manages a local apartment complex with a letter.

"We don't feel like there was any due process here," said Jensen. "None of the citizens were aware of this that I am aware of. None of the citizens were aware of this."

Her company went from paying under a grand a month for one meter, to owing $14,000.00.

Jensen explained, "We thought it was a mistake of course, something has gone crazy, there was no meter reading, no consumption on it."

City leaders say customers may have to back pay their bills for the past six years. But everyone we talked to says that's something they just can't afford.

Jose said, "If that happens I got to go out of the business it's too hard to pay the money."

City leaders tell us they will address any concerns of business owners who have a problem with their water bills. If you do have any concerns, call city hall.


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