Arte­sian Wa­ter moves quickly to fix billing er­ror

Cecil Whig - - BUSINESS - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— As many as 900 Arte­sian Wa­ter cus­tomers in Port De­posit and west-

CE­CIL COUNTY

ern Elk­ton were ac­ci­den­tally over­billed, ac­cord­ing to a spokesman for the util­ity.

Joseph DiNun­zio, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and sec­re­tary of the Ne­wark, Del.-based com­pany, said Mon­day that bills started go­ing out Wed­nes­day charg­ing cus­tomers more for the base amount of wa­ter us­age.

“It was a very silly thing. We shifted a me­ter read­ing by two weeks and (the sys­tem) au­to­mat­i­cally cre­ated a pro­ra­tion,” DiNun­zio said, not­ing the er­ror added $8.81 to the quar­terly bill.

A Ce­cil County res­i­dent him­self, DiNun­zio said it was a neigh­bor who no­ticed the er­rant base rate Wed­nes­day evening and brought it to his at­ten­tion.

“He got his bill elec­tron­i­cally and checked it right away,” DiNun­zio said, adding he also be­gan look­ing into what hap­pened.

Cus­tomers us­ing the least pos­si­ble amount of wa­ter were who got the er­ro­neous bills via email Wed­nes­day, and in the mail by the week­end.

Let­ters went out im­me­di­ately, he added. Dated April 8, the let­ter — ob­tained by the Whig from Port De­posit town hall — ex­plains that an er­ror in billing for the min­i­mum charge of 10,000 gal­lons of wa­ter cre­ated the mis­taken cal­cu­la­tion.

Those who have al­ready paid the bill will get a credit in the next quar­terly billing cy­cle, the let­ter ex­plains.

“If they have not, they should deduct $8.81 from their bill,” DiNun­zio said.

Arte­sian pur­chased Port De­posit’s wa­ter sys­tem in 2010 for $1.26 mil­lion. The town also turned its wastew­a­ter treat­ment op­er­a­tion over to Ce­cil County in 2009. That’s the same year that Arte­sian be­came the county’s fran­chisee for wa­ter ser­vice in the western Elk­ton area.

DiNun­zio said he un­der­stands how the er­ror was over­looked in the billing of­fice. The util­ity’s Delaware cus­tomers are billed monthly and there’s no base min­i­mum us­age. Noth­ing caught the eye of the staff print­ing the bills, he said.

He added that Arte­sian hopes in the fu­ture to move to monthly billing for its Ce­cil County cus­tomers too.

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