TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa City Council discussed questions over water bills at a recent public works meeting after hearing from multiple concerned citizens.
2 News Oklahoma heard from multiple viewers who said their bills appear to be hundreds of dollars more than normal. Councilors said they've also heard from citizens who think they're being overcharged.
However, the city finance department said they haven’t seen any cases of miscalculations.
“I will say we haven’t found any evidence that there are any miscalculations in our bills," said James Wagner, city of Tulsa finance director. "So, that’s not going on at all.”
Many viewers we've spoken to said they noticed the change about the same time as a ransomware attack on the city. The city's finance department said they started a new billing system just days before that. Some services, like the 311 app, were impacted. The app is still down.
The customer care center said they're seeing an increase in calls. Staff shortages in the call center are causing some to wait a long time to speak with someone. But, the care center is hoping to add more staff soon. It plans to increase the starting wage to $15.
“It’s going to take us a while to work back and gain their trust," said Monica Hamilton, director of Customer Care. "So, for some people, it’s just a matter of this doesn’t look right and you just went through it and now something’s wrong. And again it’s made worse by the fact that they can’t talk to a live person oftentimes.”
The city is also seeing a shortage of meter readers. It's hoping to hire more readers and plans to increase their starting wage to $15, too. Because of that shortage, some water bills are being estimated. If your bill has an "E" or says "EST" it's estimated. The finance department said bills will not be estimated two months in a row. If the estimated bill is higher than the actual reading the next month, your account will be credited.
If you think your water bill is wrong, the city said to continue paying it so your water doesn't get shut off. They suggest paying the bill or calling the city to set up a payment plan.
If you are having issues with your water bill, but can't get a hold of anyone over the phone, the city has set up an email. It's email@example.com. They ask that you include your name, address, six-digit account number, and seven-digit customer ID.
You can also visit the city website for more information.
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