By Zachary Daum
Recently several Mascoutah residents took to Facebook with complaints of overly high bills. Although rates were raised recently for both water and electricity, these residents had astronomically higher bills, with one person on Facebook posting that their statement for the previous month was $260.45, while their most recent bill was at an astronomically higher $1,256.03.
Although people’s bills were much higher than they were supposed to be, the city responded individually to people affected by the sudden rise in cost and have now released a statement to the public. “The City’s meter reading software corrupted during the readings for May usage, which is billed in June, and did not transfer the readings for some accounts. Due to this, the City estimated the usage for any unread accounts based on the previous year’s usage during the same time period. When this happens, the City then has to subtract the April usage reading from June’s usage reading and then subtract the estimated May usage reading. The software system failed to do that this month, causing the Utility Billing office to manually go through each utility account to adjust the bills. Unfortunately, a few accounts did not get saved correctly in the system.
“Additionally, many people see an increase in their bills from June to July because that is when they turn their air conditioner on due to the heat. Compounding this, most bills have an average of 28-30 days. Due to the holiday at the beginning of July, some bills have an extra 4-6 days on them if their meters were not read until July 5.
“The City encourages everyone to double-check their utility bills and call 618-566-2964 ext. 502 with any questions or concerns. Customers can verify their electric usage by checking the reading on their electric meters (located outside of the house) and compare it to the ending reading on the bill. The reading on the meter should be higher than the reading on the current bill. If the reading is lower than the reading on the utility bill, the customer should contact the City for verification.”
At the April 17, 2023 City Council meeting, electric and water rates were raised by 3%. This was required due in large part to the rising rate of inflation and Mayor Pat McMahan stated at that time that, “The treatment plant isn’t cheap and like everything else in this world, costs have risen dramatically in the last few years so we have to account for it somewhere. No one likes to raise rates but I don’t see how we can avoid it. Inflation is eating everybody alive and we aren’t immune to that.”
People have continued to report errors in city-related billing online so at this time, as in the statement given by the city itself, contact the city at 618-566-2964 ext. 502 to report any errors with billing.