YALE, Okla. - There’s one sink and one toilet inside Okiegirl Photography Studio in Yale, Oklahoma.
Elizabeth Whittington owns the studio and said the utility bill is usually around $400 but, this last month, it jumped to more than $4,000.
“I don’t even meet the minimum requirement for water usage, and this is the bill I get,” she said.
Whittington said she noticed a leak last month but her fiancé quickly repaired it.
Still, she said they were billed for using more than 225,000 gallons of water.
“We are not debating that there was a leak. But, 225,000 gallons, that’s 12 frack tanks. It would fill this building up,” said Wes Savory.
The couple said they took their concern to the city of Yale for answers.
“They are not giving me any explanation other than I just need to pay it,” Whittington said.
Getting nowhere with the water board, Whittington was put on the city council agenda but was taken off at the last minute.
“They told us that the commission couldn’t make any decisions and that it would have to be the city manager, and the city manager said it would have to be the city council,” Whittington said.
We went to get our own answers from Yale city manager Phillip Kelly.
He didn’t talk to us on camera but said, in a statement:
“Bottom line is, water passed thru the meter into the ground, from a leak they knew they had and failed to fix in a timely fashion.”
He also said no one knows how long water was leaking “days maybe weeks.”
Kelly offered to have the Whittington’s meter tested, saying “if the meter comes back working and reading as it should, the cost is passed to the consumer… If it comes back damaged or not reading correctly, the city would be responsible for the testing."
But, that still leaves the $4,000 bill.
“They offered to put me on a six-month payment, but that is $600 on top of my normal payment. I can’t afford that. That was no resolution to me. I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Whittington said.
She said she still plans to attend the Yale City Council meeting Tuesday night at 6:30.
Several other residents with similar concerns said they plan to attend, as well.