Water bill problems

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Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Utility Works To Fix Bills

By Miguel Navrot Journal Staff Writer SANTA FE -- Santa Feans receiving apparently incorrect warnings that their water service will be cut off have nothing to worry about, city utility officials said. Other residents have complained recently of confusing notices of stopped service with their water bills. The warnings, though, also include a disclaimer: "Your service is not in danger of being disconnected. Thank you for your patience." Those problems stem not from missed payments, water officials say, but rather a new computer system. "We're disconnecting no one while we're having these problems," stressed Sangre de Cristo Water Co. administrator Craig O'Hare, though officials aren't sure how long problems could persist. "It's hard to say," O'Hare added. "We've fixed some of them and we're working on others." The water utility is operating on new software that was installed during the preparations for Y2K, officials said Tuesday. The software has included disconnect notices on some bills, though the information has largely been incorrect. Water officials said they did not know the extent of the problem, but asked residents to contact the utility to report problems. Utility workers are also trying to sort through missing bill problems. Apparently, some customers have not received bills for their water use since the beginning of the year. City Public Utilities Director Dennis Gee said part of the problem also might come from a new metering system. In January, the city started contracting with a new company, California-based Quality Management Services, to read meters. Gee said Quality Management Services bid less than the Public Service Company of New Mexico to do the metering. PNM, which has jointly operated Sangre de Cristo Water since the city purchased it in 1995, previously did the meter reading, Gee said. The California company bid about 55 cents for a meter read, compared with the 73-cent-per-meter PNM bid. Gee said Quality Management Services has had worker turnover since winning the bid. Subsequently, there might be pockets of the city that are not having the meters read. A Quality Management Services representative who refused to provide his name Tuesday said he wasn't aware of any problems in his company performance in Santa Fe.


-- - (x@xxx.com), March 22, 2000

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