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Petersburg resident blames ‘antiquated technology’ for $555 water bill

PETERSBURG, Va. – A Petersburg resident has had a steady flow of issues with her monthly water bill.

In May, 10-year resident Carol Adams feared her monthly water bill would triple when Petersburg adjusted pricing based on water meter size.

The physical difference is between 5/8ths and one inch, but for Adams, the price was a $40 increase on her bill.

Adams worked out a monthly payment plan with the city of Petersburg to pay for a new smaller water meter, which would cost around $739.

But Monday she found a bill in her mailbox for the entire amount. On top of that, she said her past two water bill payments still haven't been processed.

"I don't want my water cut off,” she said.

In June she paid her utility bill through the automatic draft from her bank.

The payment never showed up online, so for July's payment Adams went to City Hall and paid cash.

"I check online and there's a balance of $107 dollars,” she said; the combined amount for both June and July.

"They tell me I owe $107 dollars and I say but I have the paperwork,” she said.

Then Monday afternoon she received a really big bill.

"I get this wonderful bill for $555 dollars for the meter that I'm supposed to be on a payment plan,” she said.

On Tuesday CBS 6 went with Carol Adams to try and get some answers.

On Tuesday CBS 6 went with Carol Adams to try and get some answers.

First she went to the Treasurer's Office regarding her utility bill payments not showing up.

"They said one payment showed up, I had to get them to hunt for the other payment because I had the check to prove it,” Adams said.

Both payments were found and her account credited. Then she went to to the water department concerning her water meter payments.

She discovered that she is still on the monthly plan but the bill just can't show it...

"What I gathered from all of this is their system is really antiquated,” Adams said.

"Give us a chance to make it better, we recognize there is a problem and we have to fix it but it's going to take time but we are going to fix it,” said Aretha Ferrell-Benavides, Petersburg City Manager.

Adams said she believes one of the biggest problems concerning bill payments getting online quickly is the fact the treasurer's office has had its staff cut drastically.

The new city manager addressed staffing and her concerns about antiquated technology and said she is taking a three-phase approach to fix the problem.

She said first she will look at the process, then technology and finally the staff.

"You can have 15 people there but if you have a bad process and you don't have the technology, they're still going to be frustrated, so we've got to fix those two factors first,” Ferrell-Benavides said.