The Houston Board of Mayor and Aldermen has seen this happen for years with people unhappy with a monthly water bill. Okolona has also seen this problem with voters coming before the board wanting relief from a water bill.
In Houston the issue came to a boil when the board was approached by more than 20 people saying they had unusually high water bills this winter and wanting the city to reduce the amount they owed.
We would like to inform the community that any city official – elected or staff – who reduces a water bill commits a crime that is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 dollars.
We understand the desire of aldermen to reduce an unusually high water bill for a elderly voter on fixed income. But where to does the city draw the line?
In 2011 a church came before the board with a bill showing they used 75,000 gallons of water in one month – and they weren’t Baptist.
The city, as is its policy, told the church they would be glad to check the meter. The logic being if the meter is good the water went through the meter and the bill needed to be paid.
The city has always said meters can be read incorrectly. The city has always said that sometimes meters read inaccurately. And the city has always said if either of those can be proved, they will be glad to adjust the bill.
The city has also said water can quietly leak under houses. The city has said flushed toilets can unknowingly continue to run for days. The city has also said people need to watch their property and their bill so these problems can be quickly fixed.
What the city has never said is we are all cheated when someone comes into City Hall and just wants a bill fixed.
The people of Houston and Okolona would rise up in fury if aldermen voted to fix a ticket issued by local police. We would be demanding someone’s job if city gravel, gasoline or grass were given to a private citizen.
We should feel no different about giving away city water without a valid explanation.
We urge city water departments to make sure meters are read correctly. We urge cities to gladly replace meters that have given questionable readings. We urge both Okolona and Houston to always be polite in explaining their policy and procedure.
We also urge city water users to then pay their monthly water bill.
City water is a service many of us take for granted.
We turn on the tap and good clean water comes out. But that doesn’t happen for free.
This is a city service that must be run like the all-important business that it is.
Voting to reduce what others owe is unfair to us all.