Petersburg city attorney underbilled for water for more than a year

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — 8News has uncovered that Petersburg’s city attorney is paying much less for water at his restaurant than you’d expect. $3.75 a month is what he has been paying, and that is well below the minimum base rate. It’s been that low since March of last year.

$3.75 a month is what he has been paying, and that is well below the minimum base rate. It’s been that low since March of last year.

Best Stop Carryout Fish Grill & Convenience Store is the restaurant owned by Joseph Preston. He’s owned the building for nearly a decade, but last March, Preston opened it as a restaurant. Since then, he’s been only receiving a $3.75 water bill, which is only the storm water fee amount.

He’s been using water, but until just recently never realized he wasn’t paying for that water. And it turns out, his next door neighbor has been the one footing the bill for Preston’s water usage.

8News asked Preston about this he was not willing to go on camera, but told us he actually self-reported the low bill back in April, more than a year after he first started receiving the unusually low bills.

We wanted to know as the city attorney how did he not know his water bill should be more than $3.75? Preston claimed his business uses very little water and he just assumed that was a normal bill.

So how did this happen? As it turns out there is only one water meter servicing his building as well as his next door neighbor, Tony’s Disco Restaurant & Lounge, so all of Preston’s usage has been billed to Tony’s.

In a statement, the city manager’s Office told 8News, in part:

“Mr. Preston was notified by email on July 14, 2017 that his building would require, on his part, a separate construction for a water/sewer tap. Mr. Preston was also advised to speak to the next door account holder regarding the issue.”

Mr. Preston told 8News Reporter Parker Slaybaugh he has not said anything to his neighbor about it, and when Slaybaugh talked to the owner of Tony’s, he was unaware of the issue. The city says they are in the process of sending the neighbor a letter informing him of the billing problem.No word if Preston will be asked to reimburse Tony’s for water used.

No word if Preston will be asked to reimburse Tony’s for water used.It’s important to note that even if no water was used the minimum water bill should be more than $25.00 every month.

It’s important to note that even if no water was used, the minimum water bill should be more than $25.00 every month. 8News did speak to the owner of Tony’s, who said his water bill typically runs over $100.

Petersburg residents also wonder why there is no charge for trash collection on that bill. Preston tells us his business opts out of trash collection and instead carry the trash off-site daily.

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