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Middletown Water Billing Unfair

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John Beagle View Drop Down
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    Posted: Feb 06 2017 at 12:21pm

I bought a rental property in Middletown last month and just received a whole month of water, sewer and trash. The total came out to $48.58 and indicated that I had used 0 water for the month. I had purchased the property mid month so I thought I would receive a pro-rated bill so I called the city water department. They confirmed that not only was the bill correct, but had I owned the property for only 1 day, I would have received a full month bill. I was told it has always been done this way. (I hate when people say that)

Now I'm not going to belittle the nice lady on the phone but this is just not right for anyone moving to Middletown or buying property in Middletown. The policy is wrong and unfair and may even be illegal because the city is charging for something that the customer did not receive.

Let this serve as my first attempt to get the word out and ask opinions of others. Is this something that should be changed? Or is it ok to bill someone for a whole month even if they only had the property for as little as 1 day?

What are your thoughts?
John Beagle
Middletown USA
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 06 2017 at 12:58pm
Could It Be??   In the minds of senior city bureaucrats and the city council, are questionable fees like this warranted to help pay for their grandiose taxpayer subsidized "downtown" ventures?  Does the public really have a voice?

As a former resident, John, it's distressing to learn that you were assessed these dubious fees as a "Thank You?" for investing your hard earned dollars in a Middletown rental property!  Be sure to keep an eye out when they undertake the next round of the housing code enforcement blitzkrieg!
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VietVet View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 06 2017 at 4:56pm
No, in any stretch of the imagination is that right John. You pay for what you use period. No using one day and getting charged for the whole month. That is just another indication to me that the city will do anything they can think of to generate more city revenue because they have nothing legitimate in place to collect revenue the traditional way through jobs and payroll and corporate taxes. So, they bust the chops of the residents to make up the difference.

Speaking of water bills......I have noticed that my water bill was around $60-65/ month a few months ago. Now, the last two months, it has been $89 and $91. Anyone's bill been higher like that the last few months, even with the same water usage habits? We are being charged more now for water and sewage but have not changed our habits at all. Are we being charged more for these services and if so, is it that much more?

How about it Adkins. Can you address this issue and explain why the water bill has gone up, enough to be noticed? Did you tell us about an increase that we have forgotten about or did the city sneak in another little upcharge on the trash and sewer rates again to increase the bill another $20-$30 bucks?
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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John Beagle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Beagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 06 2017 at 5:35pm
Well I did get a call from Steve Bohannon. He said I had a good point and that he will discuss it with council.

I explained that it would cost the city very little to adjust the law for something as simple as 1-15 days owned = 50% of monthly minimum or actual usage what ever is larger. Then if you own the property for more than half a month, a full minimum fee would apply. 

That seems fair. And it only affects the first month of residency so the cost to the city should actually be zero since it is based on usage and/or 'fair' fees.

Either way I have to say I am impressed that Councilman Bohannon contacted me. And for that I say thanks.


John Beagle
Middletown USA
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John Beagle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Beagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 06 2017 at 5:44pm
Here is a copy of my initial water bill. Note no reading was taken until the end of the billing cycle so usage was reported as zero. 

I know I flushed the toilet and ran the water in the sink and the bath/showers so I do owe the city a little money at least. lol



John Beagle
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Douglas Adkins View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2017 at 8:23am
I'm going to answer these in reverse order....

Viet Vet - yes, your bill went up for water, sewer, and trash collection. It wasn't a surprise, however. We've been talking about it for a few months now in Council meetings, as part of the budget, on my City Manager blog and in the Journal News. The rate increases took effect in January and this will be your first bill at the higher rates. If you believe you have significant changes in use, we can have someone take a look at your service. I'd also be happy to see if there are any discounts in our program that you haven't seen yet for age or some other program discount. I'm not insensitive to the burden on our fixed income families. If you'd like to talk further offline, I'd be happy to discuss this.

John - I've asked for additional info on your situation. I need to know exactly what our policy says, whether we followed it here, whether it makes any sense and whether or not we communicated our policy clearly to you. One of the people who had that information was off work yesterday so I'm waiting to get the info to respond more clearly. You can always ask for a Supervisor or email me if you have problems. You may not always like the answer, but I'll tell you why we did what we did.   I have a Council meeting tonight but I'll get back here as soon as I can with additional information.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2017 at 9:54am
I am impressed Mr. Adkins. You have, once again, responded in an efficient manner, which is totally out of character for a city manager, based on the past. Thank you. I appreciate our responses.

Had forgotten about the increase. Didn't know it would cause my monthly water bill to go up 30%+ though. Was around $62 bucks and now is in the high 80's and low 90's per month. Quite a large jump here IMO, especially when we consider that we used no more water for bathing, clothes washing or running the dishwasher than we normally do.

The $92 bill is reminiscent of the bills I paid to include watering the lawn in the summer months as well as the indoor water usage.

Now, with this increase, I can probably expect my summer water bills to go toward the $115-$120+ range for comparable watering times. Too bad the old paycheck doesn't go up fast enough to accommodate these types of increases to the old budget.

I guess it is what it is, but I put too much money and effort into a nice lawn to let it burn up in mid summer. I realize it is my decision ultimately to spend more due to the increase.

Realize, your service rate increases for water, sewer and trash, coupled with your street repair money increase proposals, coupled with the city idea of increasing the income tax rate from 1.5% to 1.75% years ago and adding the school levy requests from the school people from time to time does nothing to endear you city/school leaders with the people living here. You know we are a poor community. Please also realize we are Middletown, not Centerville, Mason, Springboro or West Chester and I'm sure you are aware we can't afford to be taxed like those upscale cities seem to be.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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John Beagle View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Beagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2017 at 11:14am
Originally posted by Douglas Adkins Douglas Adkins wrote:

I'm going to answer these in reverse order....

Viet Vet - yes, your bill went up for water, sewer, and trash collection. It wasn't a surprise, however. We've been talking about it for a few months now in Council meetings, as part of the budget, on my City Manager blog and in the Journal News. The rate increases took effect in January and this will be your first bill at the higher rates. If you believe you have significant changes in use, we can have someone take a look at your service. I'd also be happy to see if there are any discounts in our program that you haven't seen yet for age or some other program discount. I'm not insensitive to the burden on our fixed income families. If you'd like to talk further offline, I'd be happy to discuss this.

John - I've asked for additional info on your situation. I need to know exactly what our policy says, whether we followed it here, whether it makes any sense and whether or not we communicated our policy clearly to you. One of the people who had that information was off work yesterday so I'm waiting to get the info to respond more clearly. You can always ask for a Supervisor or email me if you have problems. You may not always like the answer, but I'll tell you why we did what we did.   I have a Council meeting tonight but I'll get back here as soon as I can with additional information.


Thanks Doug. The water lady was really nice and patient when she explained it to me. I fully understood and will pay my bill in full with no protest. I just thought it was not a great way to introduce new residents and businesses to Middletown. 

Day 1: Welcome to Middletwon
Day 2: You owe us for a full month of water because you had the misfortune to have owned the property one day into our monthly billing cycle.

I hope you understand. 
John Beagle
Middletown USA
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whistlersmom View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whistlersmom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2017 at 11:39am
John said:

“I bought a rental property in Middletown last month and just received a whole month of water, sewer and trash. The total came out to $48.58 and indicated that I had used 0 water for the month. I had purchased the property mid month so I thought I would receive a pro-rated bill so I called the city water department. They confirmed that not only was the bill correct, but had I owned the property for only 1 day, I would have received a full month bill. I was told it has always been done this way. (I hate when people say that)

Now I'm not going to belittle the nice lady on the phone but this is just not right for anyone moving to Middletown or buying property in Middletown. The policy is wrong and unfair and may even be illegal because the city is charging for something that the customer did not receive.

Let this serve as my first attempt to get the word out and ask opinions of others. Is this something that should be changed? Or is it ok to bill someone for a whole month even if they only had the property for as little as 1 day?”

John, this is just the tip of the iceberg of the corruption and dishonesty with the water bills. For years the city has charged extra if you go over a minimum amount, even if it took a year (or two or three) for your meter to show that amount has been used, even though you had paid for minimum use every month (and that is also paying for something you didn’t receive). The city will stoop to any level to collect as much as possible on water bills since that is the only charge that council has been able (so far) to increase without a vote of the citizens. Water, sewer and trash funds have became slush funds even though they are enterprise funds which can only be used for the purpose that they are collected. Remember that council recently voted to raise water, sewer and trash rates every year, for three to five years, to repair streets. That is criminal, imo. Several years ago council put a storm water sewer fee on water bills, saying that it was federally mandated. In the seventies there was a storm water sewer charge added to the water bill for separation of the sewers. We are still paying that fee on the monthly bill. Now we will pay twice, and please recall that the original income tax was to go to water and sewer in order to keep the rates low (making us more attractive for new business and residents). If those funds had been used for the sewer separation then we wouldn’t have a colossal bill to do the job now. Those funds were (are) siphoned off by council, so the “new” storm water sewer fee was NOT federally mandated. And, it should never have been on water bills without a vote of the citizens.

Water, sewer and trash funds have been abused in many ways. Until a few years ago, a two family house on one lot had only one storm water sewer charge. Now the city bills both water meters for the same house on one lot, which is double what a single family lot would pay. The city knowingly sends out falsely inflated bills in these cases. Businesses are charged for run off by the square foot of roof and parking area (concrete and blacktop). But even that was not enough money for the city, so they added charges for run off of graveled parking. They claim that water can NOT pass through graveled areas into the ground. Very scientific!

This is just a sample of the abuse and misuse of city funds. It looks like a classic “rob Peter to pay Paul” with a shell game all rolled into one. Their “confiscate citizen’s money” no matter how dishonest and “never use money as intended” attitude is one reason Middletown is in the condition it is today.
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Douglas Adkins View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2017 at 11:45am
Vet-

If you are willing and want to email me, I can have staff look at your usage and bill and see if there is anything I can see that caused that much increase. I'd be happy to do it if it would be helpful.

douga@cityofmiddletown.org

Doug
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 07 2017 at 1:41pm
Originally posted by Douglas Adkins Douglas Adkins wrote:

Vet-

If you are willing and want to email me, I can have staff look at your usage and bill and see if there is anything I can see that caused that much increase. I'd be happy to do it if it would be helpful.

douga@cityofmiddletown.org

Doug


I know you are too busy and have too many other issues to deal with my water bill. Let me check my $92 bill against my $62 bill readings and see where my issue lies before bothering your staff with what may be an oversight on my part. I will advise here when I find out the differences.

Thank you Mr. Adkins. Your willingness to help is appreciated.
I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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