There’s been a slight uproar concerning recent water bills in the city of Clarkfield and those concerns were addressed Tuesday night at the regular Clarkfield City Council meeting.
Clarkfield resident and Civic and Commerce Secretary Stephanie Randall broached the topic early in the meeting questioning why her water bills for the past two months were so much higher then expected. Randall said many people in Clarkfield were similarily surprised by their water bills and council woman Erin Crosby concurred, saying several residents had approached her with the same questions.
Clarkfield recently finished updating all the water meters in town, updated their billing software and have now switched to a monthly billing cycle after having been on a quarterly cycle.
City Administrator Scott Weske ticked off the reasons residents are being surprised by recent bills. First is the logistics of switching the billing cycle. Depending on when a resident’s meter was installed, the first bill may be paying off part of a quarterly cycle on top of the new monthly bill. Then there’s the fact that the new meters are much more accurate than the old meters they replace and some of those old meters may have been running far behind a households actual water usage. Lastly, the process—at least and hopefully just for these first few months—is just plain confusing.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people and I’ve had several people come in to go over their bill,” said Weske. “And I get it, it’s confusing. But I’m more then willing to walk people through it. That’s the nice thing about these new meters and system is we have all the information we need to double and triple check everything. Once we get to where we have a baseline reading, it’ll be very helpful and take care of a lot of problems before they arise.”
The council discussed ways that the city might better inform residents and decided if questions persist, letters could be sent out and possibly a type of seminar could be conducted. For now, Weske will continue to answer questions as they come up.
“You just have to tell people if they have questions, just bring them into (Weske),” said Mayor Gene Kockelman.
“Maybe we should post a sign out front: ‘Water bills? Stop in’... Cars will be lined up out front (of City Hall) like some drive-in,” said councilman Dave Biermaier drawing laughs from the council.
Weske said even he had questioned some of the higher bills he’s seen. “When I see some bills are $400-$500—I question that. I’ve sent (Public Works Director) Jeff (Lobdell) to check several meters. And every meter’s been right. People haven’t been happy, but the meters have been right...
Page 2 of 2 - “And you can put on record that come March 1 people will be a lot happier and their new monthly bills will be a lot smaller,” said Weske.