8News helps Petersburg woman shave $700 off inflated water bill

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Once again, residents are reaching out to 8News complaining of problems with their water bills. But tonight, 8News is speaking with city leaders and even getting one woman’s bill fixed.

0FE0594C5EF94EC5A539C4D9E17DD3ADImagine Bernita Gary’s shock when she opened her mail, only to find a whopping $815 water bill for under two months of usage.

“That’s extremely high for me,” she told 8News Investigative Reporter Parker Slaybaugh. “I’ve never had a bill over a $100 dollars here.”

The bill included $119 for a past water bill that she says she already paid, plus $198 for water usage, $450 for sewer, and $47 in other charges. Also, note this is an estimated bill and not an actual reading.

“I’ve always kept my bills updated,” Gary insisted.

With Gary’s approval, 8News went straight to the top to get answers. Acting City Manager Diroona Belton looked at our finding as examined the bill and found there was an error.

“We were able to adjust her bill,” Belton responded after noting our findings.

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As it turns out, a new water meter was never installed inside Gary’s home, meaning her old meter is measuring water usage in cubic feet and not gallons like the new meters. So, that means the formula used to estimate the usage kicked out a bill much higher than it should have been.

“They system had attempted to read (the meter) incorrectly,” Belton admitted.

Remember: Gary’s original bill was $815. As fir the new bill 8News delivered back to a grateful Gary: $87.76. That’s a difference of $727.

“I am so happy, you don’t even understand,” she said. “I am so happy, that is a mortgage …

“I credit it to 8News, news where you live, thank you so much!”

“I credit it to 8News, news where you live, thank you so much!”

Belton says the city has stopped issuing estimated bills and are reading them again, but it does take the billing cycle and extra month to catch up, so those new readings should appear on June’s bill.

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