PRESS RELEASE: Some City Residents Will See Discount on Recent Utility Bill

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(PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CITY OF SALINE)

City of Saline staff have been actively responding to inquiries from residents regarding the new utility rates and the impacts on their bills over the last two weeks. During the course of these conversations some unique issues have been identified which contributed to many ratepayers experiencing higher than usual consumption.

The most prominent factor impacting reported usage was the result of an earlier than normal meter read date.

“While the City strives to design billing quarters that are 91 to 93 days on average, the summer 2022 billing period covered a 110 to 114 day period for approximately 97% of ratepayers,” City Treasurer Elle Cole explains, “This significantly contributed to overall usages for some residents as their total usage included a roughly 25% longer billing cycle than average.”

Dry weather this summer also exacerbated the impact of the longer billing cycle. City-wide usage from summer 2021 to summer 2022, when adjusted for the longer billing period, showed a 33.46% increase in consumption. The 2022 summer season was closer in overall consumption to 2020 which also featured a dry summer. Adjusted summer 2022 usage compared to actual 2020 usage was only up 1.4% city-wide.

City Manager Colleen O’Toole noted, “For residents still wondering why their summer 2022 usage appears to be more than double their spring 2022 usage this abnormal billing cycle is the primary culprit. The spring 2022 billing cycle was significantly shorter than the historical average and the summer billing cycle was proportionally larger. Even when comparing summer 2022 to summer 2021 the longer billing period and dryer conditions this year led some residents to see usages that appeared well beyond normal.”

To alleviate the impact of the new rates on this full period the City will be issuing revised bills with 22 days at the old consumption rates and 89 to 92 days at the new rate for impacted ratepayers. Residents do not need to request that this change be applied, these updates will occur automatically through the City’s utility billing software system. To avoid confusion, the City will not be issuing new paper bills but instead encourages residents to view their bill online after November 1 to see the adjusted rate. More information about how this credit is being calculated is available on the City’s website. Any impacted residents who have already paid their utility bill in full will see this as a credit on their next statement.

Once the correction has been applied, ratepayers will be able to view their new amount online at: https://bsaonline.com/?uid=286. Residents can also view their usage history through BSA by searching for their property and selecting the “Utility Billing Info” tab in the header below the property image. The usage history chart is available for most users at the bottom of the page. In the History section of this page residents can also view whether they may be impacted by the earlier read date by looking to see if they had a read that occurred between May 9 and May 13 of this year.

For some residents this longer than normal billing period was only one part of the impact. One other contributing factor to increased usage is linked to outdated meters being replaced. In these instances, the outside meter components slowed down more over time when compared to the inside components as a result of exposure to weather. When this occurs the inside and outside components of the meter slowly move out of sync.

“Final meter reads are always based on the internal number because this reflects the more accurate rate of usage. If residents have any questions about whether this issue has impacted their total usage calculation, the City does retain a record image of the inside and outside meter components when changing out old meters. The good news is that once the meter change out is complete, ratepayers can expect to see more consistent consumption in future quarters,” Director of Public Works Larry Sirls added.

In addition to these two issues the City identified roughly 35 to 40 instances of leaks leading to high water usage for some residents. Residents are strongly encouraged to check for leaks or contact our Department of Public Works if their usage increases can still not be explained by the longer billing period or a recent meter change out. Staff is typically available 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays by calling (734) 429-5624. For all other general utility billing inquires please contact the City of Saline Treasurers Department at (734) 429-4907.

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