Testifiers to share back billing stories at City Council today
From Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine
(HONOLULU) — Concerned testifiers will share their Board of Water Supply back-billing stories before the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee at the City Council today at 1 p.m. Councilmember Kymberly Marcos Pine introduced Resolution 13-216 that would prohibit the Board of Water Supply from continuing to back billing ratepayers, a practice that has been banned or regulated in many other states and jurisdictions throughout the country.
“I was recently contacted by the family of a 90-year-old man who received a water bill for over $7000. His monthly bill is normally around $200. The Board of Water Supply has continued to bill customers for the last six months and they are being told that they have to pay the amount or their water will be shut off” Councilmember Pine said. This man along with other testifiers will have the opportunity to share their stories today.
“Nearly 4 out of 5 of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply’s roughly 166,000 customers received at least one bill between January and September…” from today’s article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser by Gordon Pang
Councilmember Pine represents residents of District One (Ewa, Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha, Keaau, Makua) and chairs the Intergovernmental Affairs and Human Services Committee.
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Text, Status: Resolution 13-216
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Star-Adv: Water bill problems affected 94,000
SA: Nearly 4 out of 5 of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply's roughly 166,000 customers received at least one bill between January and September that was based on estimated usage, meaning they were undercharged or overcharged for at least a month.
The agency has reined in the number of estimated bills back to the more typical 1 percent to 4 percent of customers in recent months.
But it's still unclear to the agency what triggered the massive numbers earlier this year and how many people were badly affected.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has spoken to customers who have received bills showing that they needed to pay as much as $3,000 more because they had been undercharged over as many as seven billing periods in earlier months this year. Others have received credits for several hundred dollars.
At the height of the controversy over estimated bills toward the end of summer, BWS Chief Engineer and Water Manager Ernest Lau told the board and the public that his staff contended that no more than 17 percent of customers received an estimated bill, and that there was a roughy 50-50 split between those being undercharged and overcharged.
But numbers provided to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser by the agency this month showed that in March, 94,643 customers received an estimated bill, or about 57 percent. And of the nearly 130,000 customers who received an estimated bill, 79 percent received an underestimated bill while 21 percent were overcharged.
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