Check your water bill
IF YOU live in the Ballina or Byron Shire you may need to check your water bill as errors have been identified in the billing process.
The errors are due to a contractor making estimates about meter charges instead of visiting specific houses.
A bulletin provided to Ballina Shire councillors on February 3, 2012 said the problem was identified after the June 2011 quarterly water readings were processed.
An investigation into the meter readings resulted in the "termination of an employee of the Council contractor."
"This employee had been providing 'estimated' (generally underestimated) readings without visiting each meter," the bulletin stated.
Byron Shire Council also uses the same contract firm and a spokesperson for the shire acknowledged "ratepayers have been affected".
"At this stage we understand it's not as many people as the Ballina Shire that have potentially been affected. Council has been working with concerned ratepayers for the last few weeks on discrepancies on water rates bills," the spokesperson said.
Ballina Shire Council analysed 1000 accounts and estimated readings for about 300 customers had been underestimated up to June 2011.
These customers received a higher quarterly water consumption charge on a bill issued on 20 January 2012 in comparison to "previous understated accounts".
Letters advising affected customers of the billing issue were sent out on 1 February 2012.
An Alstonville pensioner, who did not wish to be named, said his most recent bill was a staggering $320.
The pensioner said this was "more than double" his monthly average.
"In all due respects it's their problem because they put the contractors in who didn't read the meters properly and now they want us to pay," the pensioner said.
Customers affected are able to contact Ballina Shire to apply for a time extension to pay the increased amount.
Ballina Shire is negotiating with the contractor regarding performance issues under the contract.
HAS YOUR WATER BILL BEEN AFFECTED? Leave a comment below.