Augusta Water Bill Change Blasted By Those On Fixed Incomes - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Augusta Water Bill Change Blasted By Those On Fixed Incomes

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Augusta, GA -

Willie Horne came to the Augusta Municipal Building to pay his water bill, but this was the second time he's been here this month.  

"I saw it, but there is very little I could do. Just pay it, oh well, that's the way it goes," said Horne.

And, that's the way it's going to be for all Augusta water customers as the city makes changes to its billing cycle, to reduce the number of days between meter reading and customers getting bills. 

"We're doing this over a ten-month period; accelerating a due date by two days a month to catch up, but inevitably, every customer is going to get two bills in a month," says Augusta Utilities Department director Tom Wiedmeier.

Lee Martin was paying her mom's bill. Her mom is on a fixed income and a month with two water bills is an unexpected and unwelcomed expense. "She can't afford...that's ridiculous. An extra forty dollars, is forty dollars worth of food, or forty dollars worth of water. That's ridiculous," said Martin.

"Two bills in one month, were you planning on this?" we asked Horne.  "No, nobody is planning on two bills in one month. As a matter of fact, I don't think that is fair," she answered.

"There are those who say this is unfair to them", we said to Weidmeier. "I couldn't figure out an easier way to do it, this is the best we can come up with," he said.

Having to pay two bills in one month will only happen to customers once, and city leaders say the department will work with customers to ease the sting.

"They will work with them on that so they won't be assessed any penalties or late fees, because of course we understand that people are on set budgets," says Mayor Pro-Tem Corey Johnson.

"I think that's the bottom line, more revenue. Everybody wants money, like I heard Bill Cosby say a long time ago, they come after the poor first, so here we are," said Horne.

Utilities Department officials say customers are paying for water that has been used and metered, and this is not a fee increase. But, it will mean fixed income customers paying the minimal bill of around $40 will get struck with an additional payment that will not be pro-rated.

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