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Pasco leaders plan to change water billing rules

Posted: 6:20 PM, Sep 22, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-22 18:20:06-04

Louise Gritmon finally got the face-to-face time she was waiting for with Pasco County utilities head Bruce Kennedy.

“Better late than never,” she said to him as they shook hands.

And she had plenty of questions for the official.

Gritmon and her husband Gene have stressed for months about the water bill that shows they used 614,000 gallons over a three week period, enough to fill more than 60 swimming pools. It added up to $3385.99.

They were out of state at the time. And no one ever found any sign of a leak.

“Our house would have collapsed and floated down the street, along with about ten houses around us,” Gritmon said.

More than 300 Pasco utilities customers are disputing unusually high bills.

“I was away and my bill was four times higher than normal,” said Port Richey resident Ramona Nelson.

That led to an audit that showing all the tested meters worked. But some readings were done wrong, leading to incorrect billing.

Some county commissioners were ready to wipe out the big bills.

“At this point we’ve spent way more than $3000 on staff time, let alone these poor folks that have been agonizing over this for over a year,” said county commissioner Mike Wells.

Relief won’t happen just yet, but commissioners did agree to change some rules allowing for billing adjustment.

Through it all, Pasco utilities still insists Louise’s meter works fine. They offered her a $1600 settlement, but she says that’s a slap in the face.

“I’m not paying for 614,000 gallons cause we didn’t use it. I’m not gonna pay that bill,” said Gritmon.

Utilities officials said they have been reviewing their billing system. And need to do better warning customers if water usage seems out of whack.