Folks soaked by water bills may get relief (April 3, 1996)
By Linda Angelo, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
The city has a monopoly (on water service). You can’t go anywhere else, You’re stuck, and that’s what angers people.Colette Thomas
Richard G. Crabe couldn’t believe it when he reached into his mailbox and found a $2,864.98 water bill.
I could import water cheaper from Switzerland, said Crabe, 54, a Flint resident who lives alone.
Grabe said his bills have skyrocketed since fall. February’s bill was $1,500. He said there’s no way he could have flushed the toilet, washed clothes or taken enough showers to boost his bill an additional $1,300 for March.
He insists his house does not have a leak, but it has not been inspected recently. A leak would have to flood his house to run up a $2,800 bill, he said.
I had to laugh because it can’t be for real, Crabe said.
There has to be something really wrong, but I don’t want to be the one to pay for the major mistake.
A new Flint water complaint board will start listening to wacky cases, like Crabe’s high water bill, possibly by July. The board will consist of three residents and four staff members, said City Administrator David H. Ready.
The City Council is expected to approve the appointments by the end of this month, along with $5,000 in next year’s fiscal budget for claims.
But before residents can appeal to the board, they must meet several requirements, including at least two consecutive, unexplainable high water bills; an inspection for leaks by a city employee and a licensed plumber; and going through an administrative appeal process.
Colette Timlick said she filed a complaint with the ombudsman’s office after her water bill went from $74 in June 1995 to more than $700 in October. City records show she was billed for using 16 units of water in July, 80 units in August and 156 units in September.
The city has a monopoly, said Timlick, who thinks the water board is a good idea.
You can’t go anywhere else. You’re stuck, and that’s what angers people.
Timlick said a plumber has checked her property and didn’t find leaks. She now owes $890.50, city records indicate.
I’m not an anxious person, she said.
I just prayed about it and left it in God’s hands.
Crabe, who has lived in his home since 1953, said he began having problems after a new meter was placed outside his house a few years ago. He said he has had a few high water bills, but none near $2,800.
Crabe said a city housing specialist offered to meet with him in February after he complained about his bill.
In the meantime, he said a city employee re-read his meter Feb. 27. Afterward, he received a notice stating he had to pay $147.32 by March 14 or his water would be shut off.
Residents now must call the water department to have their meters read if they detect a problem. If they don’t like the result, they can request an administrative review and hearing with the city’s chief accountant.
Timlick said she was promised a hearing but never got one. Grabe said he was unaware that he needed to request a hearing.
Mishaps can happen when readings are estimated or if employees misread the meter.
But Finance Director Marc Puckett said there is a misconception that the water meters malfunction.
With forced flow meters, it is impossible for the meter to advance at a rate of speed faster than the water flowing through it, he said.
Incorrect water bills could result from remote readers, which are installed on the outside of houses. They may become corroded or bumped, affecting the meter’s reading.
Puckett said it’s the residents’ responsibility to check the remote.
But council President Scott Kincaid said the remotes are ineffective, and residents shouldn’t have to pick up the tab if the devices don’t provide an accurate reading.
Kincaid said the whole appeal process needs to be revamped, and he’s glad a new complaint board will be looking at unusual cases.
There’s nothing in place that’s working, Kincaid said.
I’m experiencing more complaints now than in the past 1O years I’ve been on council.
Copyright Flint Journal / MLive Media Group (mlive.com). Used with permission.
Files dealing with Marc Puckett
- 19920114 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920225 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920303 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920305 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920319 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19920623 Minutes of a special meeting of the city council for the City of East Detroit, Macomb County, Michigan
- 19960111 Retirement firm accuses official of favoritism
- 19960403 Folks soaked by water bills may get relief
- 19960920 Marc Puckett’s red light ticket
- 19990130 $9-million pension fund transfer raises questions
- 19990202 Retirement panel urges ‘immediate’ audit of plan
- 19990203 Retirement board splits over need for independent manager
- 19990203 Finance director resigns under fire of pension flap
- 19990210 Former finance director lashes back at critics, hints suit
- 19990224 Flint to boost pension fund
- 19990319 Flint sent tax funds to wrong units
- 19990326 Ex-finance director cashes in on $6,000 in unused vacation time
- 19990330 Flint could owe state millions some industrial facilities taxes have not been paid since 1996
- 19990408 Stanley acts on money woes, appoints new finance chief
- 19990411 Stanley must share blame as part of his plan to fix city’s financial woes
- 19990909 Audit details shortfalls in financial procedures
- 20100219 Personal injury complaint against Marc Puckett
- 20100408 Answer of defendant, Marc R. Puckett, to plaintiffs’ complaint
- 20101227 New finance director to step down
- 20101228 Marc Puckett out — Again
- 20101230 Leadership turmoil
- 20110104 The world according to John Moorlach
- 20110110 City faces $231,000 deficit
- 20110113 Interim finance director named
- 20110210 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 201102405 Marc Puckett’s ticket for stopping on a red signal
- 20110817 Marc Puckett’s ticket for no license plate
- 20120309 Marc Puckett’s Orange County accident case information
- 20120425 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 20120703 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 20140724 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- 20141124 Marc Puckett’s ticket for coasting out of gear
- 20141205 Marc Puckett’s ticket for speeding
- 20150529 Marc Puckett’s ticket for improper use of preferred lane
- Comments for tonight’s council meeting
- The innumerate Mr. Puckett
- Shill crazy after all these years
- Earth to Puckett!
- About those awards
- One PRR story: American Express (CC)
- 20160913 Documents link top Apple Valley official to #FlintWaterCrisis
- 20160913 Investigation: Flint / Apple Valley Connection
- 20160915 Economic Speech (Trump)
- 20161018 Will Apple Valley become California’s Flint, MI?
- 20170319 Trump EPA grants Michigan $100 million to fix Flint water system
- 20170320 Sinkhole: Effort to replace pipes to Flint homes off to slow start
- 20170806 Vehicle belonging to AV town manager involved in hit-and-run
- He’s gonna need a good lawyer
- 20170809 Apple Valley official believes Liberty could have followed him before crash
- Public trust destroyed (Carloni)
- 20170907 Hit-and-run investigation involving Marc Puckett’s Cadillac sent to DA
- 20171010 Marc Puckett’s speeding ticket
- A question of character
- 20171206 Apple Valley Finance Director Marc Puckett charged with felony hit-and-run
- 20171206 A long wait for crash victim
- 20171117 A history of infractions
- 20171207 Apple Valley Finance Director Marc Puckett on personal leave after felony hit-and-run charge filed
- 20171214 Apple Valley Finance Director Marc Puckett pleads not guilty to felony hit-and-run charge
- 20171214 I-15 crash victim seeks $2M in damages from Apple Valley
- 20171219 Editorial: Passing the Puck (Valles)
- 20171228 Town Hall position not a factor in Puckett’s custody status, attorney says
- 20180105 Puckett forced out as Apple Valley’s Assistant Manager & Finance Director
- 20180109 Tin Cup Men (Valles)
- 20180116 Puckett’s dismissal just what the town needed (Valles)
- 20180307 Puckett deposition set for mid-April in town’s eminent domain case
- 20180425 Pre-plea report ordered in Puckett’s felony case