Richland woman receives $6K+ utility bill after change in billing system

RICHLAND, GA (WTVM) - One woman in Richland, Georgia says she has never had a problem paying her utility bills.

This month, she was shocked to find her utility bill to be over $6,000.

"They said you know you have used $8,000 worth of water in the last month? I said what," explains Richland resident Christina Schribner.

She's not the only one who's seen an increase in her bills. Many residents say they have seen both large and small increases. According to Richland Mayor Adolph McLendon, this billing was a sample bill sent out to the residents to show them what their bill could potentially be due to a change in the Richland billing process.

Instead of paying a flat rate for their bills, city council officials say residents will now have to base their bill on water usage and meter readings.

"We've got to do this, and we have to pay back the USDA. We don't have a choice. We have been talking about this for about a year now," says Mayor  McLendon.

Residents say they weren't notified of the change in the billing and are furious. City Councilman J.C. Clark says residents not reporting leaks to the proper officials is a potential reason that most residents are seeing increases.

"It's in the citizen's hands. It's what you consume. For some it's going to be a benefit, for others it's not going to be a benefit."

According to McLendon, the Georgia Water Association suggested they pay $13,000 per month on a loan to improve the quality of water and attend to other repairs.  The mayor also stated that there were repairs made to eliminate iron ore from their water recently.

Many residents say they don't think any increases should occur because the water isn't drinkable. For some, the bill is just too steep.

"I do not mind if my bill gets raised, but I want to know about it. It seems to me that going from $65 to over $6,000 is a pretty steep amount," says Schribner.

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