There has been some questions, confusion, and errors with Ferris water bills in the last two billing cycles. I want to explain what is happening and what the City is doing to address it.
First, let me explain what went wrong. We began to notice inconsistencies in the utility financial reports. Investigating these inconsistencies found systemic data entry errors. We also found that our utility billing software was calculating the wrong amount for many of our customers. We found this to be caused by a corrupted computer file that was making the system incorrectly read the meter usages. At the same time, the 2017 rate increase took effect which compounded the problem since the errors spanned two different rate schedules.
Finding each problem, and determining which error had occurred took some time to sort out. Basically, we had to go through each bill and confirm whether it was right, and if not we had to make adjustments as appropriate. This caused confusion for our customers because one persons error may have been different than their neighbors. So when they received different outcomes it seemed random or unfair. We apologize for that and are working to get everything resolved.
Here is what we have done thus far. First, to address the data entry errors, we have hired a new utility billing clerk. Data entry is a human error and we feel a change to who is responsible for this task will reduce these errors. Second, we have purchased a new utility billing system. This system will reduce human entry thus allowing for fewer mistakes. It will also eliminate the old meter reading system that had corrupted. This system should go live no later than March.
In anticipation of the new system, we will be conducting a manual read and verification of every water meter. This will ensure that we are importing the most accurate information into the new system. We are also reviewing a new brand of water meters. About half of our current water meters no longer read electronically. Replacing these meters is necessary. The new meters we are evaluating will work over a cellular network. This will allow our customers see their water usage at any time through our website.
Again, I apologize for any inconvenience caused by these errors. We are working hard the make sure our customers are billed accurately, and that any errors are corrected. If you feel there is an error with your bill, please contact the water department at 972-544-2965. Thank you for your consideration and patience as we work through this issue.