EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – An audit of Edmond water bills – performed after numerous complaints of exorbitantly high bills – found no evidence of water bill inaccuracy or interference.
The City of Edmond selected and hired Arledge & Associates, an accounting firm, to complete an independent audit of water billing accuracy and procedures from summer 2019, according to a City of Edmond news release.
Scores of Edmond residents complained to the city about what they believed to be egregiously high water bills. City officials said the complaints prompted the audit.
However, the audit found no systemic problem with water billing accuracy and no evidence of outside interference with billing software, according to the news release.
An Arledge & Associates report states that members of the firm analyzed and recalculated the bills of various of customers, including residential and commercial customers who had made complaints, and found that the “bills were calculated correctly” and that there were “no billing discrepancies.”
“We understand the frustration that some of our customers had over the summer, and this outside audit was a key piece for us to determine how we can best serve the community in this area,” said City Manager Larry Stevens. “We were pleased to find that there were no system errors in our billing process. Moving forward, we are excited about the implementation of smart meters and additional educational resources to help residents best manage personal water use for their household in real-time.”
The report recommended that city officials enact a policy to address how complaints are handled, when meters are tested, when customers are contacted and by whom.
“When complaint levels increase in the summertime an appropriately informed
employee from the City should attend the council meeting to help with any questions from
customers regarding general billing and consumption,” the report states.
The accounting firm observed that when a customer has an unusually high amount of water consumption, an “exception” is created in the city’s system.
“The system identifies an exception by comparing the customers’ current month consumption with the exception formula. If the difference is above the threshold set by USR supervisor, the system will flag the customer and the customer will go on a reread list to verify their consumption is accurate,” the report states.
The city has four options for calculating an exception, which include last three months average, last three years same month, same season last year and last bill.
The firm recommended using the last three years same month formula, but with a change to the city’s current formula.
“The current formula for the last three years same month is to calculate the average for the last 365 days. We recommend updating the formula to calculate the actual average of the last three years same month. For customers that do not have the consumption history with the City, using the prior three months is adequate,” the report states.
Casey Moore, Edmond’s Director of Marketing & Public Relations, said in the news release that city officials are working to implement the two process improvements recommended by the firm.