Overbilling totals $241,000, dates to 2013

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BLOOMFIELD — The city of Bloomfield must pay the Bloomfield Municipal School District more than $241,000 after discovering it had been overbilling the school district for water use since March 2013.

City Manager George Duncan issued a statement about the overbilling during the Monday City Council meeting and provided a copy of the statement to The Daily Times.

“We erroneously were charging a per thousand-gallon rate for every hundred gallons,” Duncan said when reached by phone today.

He explained that when the meter was installed for the high school’s south gymnasium in March 2013, its information was set up wrong. That meant the handheld device that reads the meter was picking up one too many digits.

The city was alerted to the issue by the school district, and city and school officials jointly investigated the high bills. Duncan said the school district initially contacted the city about six weeks ago with concerns that it was being erroneously billed for water at the Bloomfield Family Aquatic Center, which is jointly operated by the school district and the city.

Bloomfield Superintendent Kim Mizell said the district received a $5,000 bill. She said the district believed that bill was for filling the pool in May, and she asked the district business manager to invoice the city because the city would pay for filling the pool.

When the city looked at the meter identification, it discovered the meter that had resulted in the $5,000 bill was for the south gymnasium, not the aquatic center.

Mizell said the $5,000 bill was one of several factors that alerted the school district to the city's error. The year before, the school district had believed a leaking pipe was causing large bills. Mizell said the pipe was located on school district property, and the district paid to replace it.

Mizell has been superintendent for three years, and the inaccurate billing began before she took the position.

Duncan said the city of Bloomfield likely will enter into a memorandum of understanding with the school district for repayment.

He said the school district and the city have mutually agreed on a timetable. The city will give the school district $40,000 now. Then, the school district will not have to pay for water use at buildings inside city limits for a year. At the end of the year, the city will pay the remaining balance to the school district.

Duncan said the district usually pays $160,000 each year for water at all its buildings, including the south gymnasium.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

Note: This story was modified to indicate the school district will be credited for water use at all buildings in the city limits

 

 

 

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