Miami residents express concern over water usage, utility bill increase

City says bills reflect actual usage

MIAMI, Okla. – A lot of Miami residents were surprised when they opened up their utility bills this month.

“My bills have been going anywhere around $180-197 was the last one before this one, and then all of a sudden it jumped up to $810…and then I see the sewer water was like 35,000 gallons over,” said AJ Roof.

“Water and sewer portions each went up about a $100. That just doesn’t make sense,” expressed Joy Jones, another Miami resident.Utility Bill Highlight2

The city is trying to help residents understand their bill, explaining that there are a number of factors that could play into the increase.

“You know, during the COVID, people were home more. Kids were out of school for an extra two months this year. Watering your yard, watering your plants…it’s dryer this year. There’s a lot of numerous reasons that we think may be the cause of these increases,” said Mayor Bless Parker.

Roof and Jones both say they don’t feel like their lifestyle has changed enough to reflect the usage. They reached out to the city and were told to check for leaks.

“My landlord came by and got underneath the house and said it’s bone dry down there, so, you know, even if there is a leak, that’s a bunch of water to not have any signs of anywhere,” said Roof.

“They said they read my meter, but when I had pulled the cover off to look at it, there was so much dirt crusted on the last three numbers that you couldn’t even see them. I had to clean it so I could read it to them,” said Jones.

Mayor Parker says meters that have been re-read are accurate over 99% of the time. The charges on people’s account reflect the water going through their meter.

“As the water flows through, it turns your meter and that’s where you get your water charges, but on the sewer, there’s no meter on that to gauge how much water is going through the sewer. So, it’s pretty much the same going in and out on your sewer, so that’s why the sewer charges are pretty much the same as your water bill. If you water your plants a lot, if you water your yard a lot, we suggest getting a seasonal meter. If you have a seasonal meter, then you don’t get the sewer charges for what comes through that water meter.”

People can get on an average pay plan to help with their budget.

“They average out what your bills have been over the previous year and then that’s what they set it at. Now, each month, that will vary just a little bit as the year rolls, so it’s a yearly roll of what your average is…Feel free to call up here. We’ll work with you, try to help you figure it out, but the bottom line is, when it goes through the meter, we don’t have a choice but to charge for it,” explained Parker.

Some have expressed concern that the increase may be due to Miami’s Splash Pad, but Mayor Parker says that’s not the case.

“The splash pad was paid for by a grant. The water that’s going through it has its own meter, and it is not going to any tax payers bill as far as the splash pad and the water going through,” he stated.

Roof and Jones paid their bill, but they’re worried about what next month will bring.

“At the end of the day, you’re still being billed for an outrageous amount of water and sewage that I don’t believe I use,” said Jones.

“I’m thankful that I have the means to come up with that real quick to pay it so my kids don’t go without electric and we don’t have to move or something, but what about somebody who can’t,” asked Roof.

Mayor Parker says the only raised utility is electric which was set to go into effect in February.

It was delayed until June 1 due to COVID-19, but it should only amount to an average increase of $3.12 per customer.