8News gets answers for Colonial Heights residents concerned over high water bills

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — Frustrated residents in Colonial Heights reached out to 8News after they received higher-than-usual water bills.

Sound familiar? Across the river, residents in Petersburg have been dealing with the same issue for months.

But Colonial Heights’ director of finance tells 8News this situation is different.

“We struggle now as it is, barely getting by with just making ends meet. It’s rough,” said Kimberly Barry, a Colonial Heights resident who says her bill skyrocketed.

It’s a reality many Colonial Heights residents are facing. Now, with higher water bills the struggle is much harder.

“How am I going to pay it? I’m already getting assistance other places,” Barry explained.

Barry says her water bills typically range between 80 to 90 dollars, but her March bill came in at more than $150. The story down the street at her mother’s home is the same.

“Last month was $151,” said Donna Rackley.

8News Investigative Reporter Parker Slaybaugh went to Director of Finance Bill Johnson for answers.

Johnson explained that bills are sent out every two months. Some meter readings in January had to be estimated due to the historic snow storm. Fast forward two months to March, and the department is dealing with another unforeseen obstacle.

“This month with these bills going out, unfortunately in a department with two meter readers, we had one pass away unexpectedly,” Johnson said.

With the death of that employee, one person was left to read all the city’s meters, meaning some were read weeks late. So instead of paying for two months of water usage, some customers may be paying for two-and-a-half months.

“If you think there is something wrong, we would be glad to come back and check it we want you to pay the most accurate bill,” Johnson said.

The good news is: Johnson says if your bill was high this month, your next bill should be lower than normal.

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