FRANKLINTON- When Cliff Lawshe was asked why he thought his water bills had been so high lately, he walked over to the meter box that reads water usage from his home and pulled the meter from the puddle of water it was floating in.
"You can disconnect the meter completely and it still reads," he said, "It averaged about $45 for probably a year. It read zero usage. And then it went from zero usage to about 8-9,000 gallons."
Lawshe says when he asked the town about the increase, he was told he must have a leak.
"Got a plumber to come check my house. No leaks. Nothing," he said, "I replaced my hot water heater within 24 hours of my hot water heater going out. I've rebuilt my toilet three times because they tell me 'Oh a slow leak can do that.'"
A few blocks away, Stephanie Crosby says her water and gas have been off since February, but she's still being sent growing bills every month charging her for usage of both. She claims efforts to talk to the utility department about the error have been useless.
"It's a lot of people dealing with this, but like I said when you go up there, you cannot talk to no one," she said.
And it's not just homeowners that are finding fault with their utility bills. The owner of La Iguana tells us a couple of months ago she noticed her bill went from $200 to $600. She was also displeased when she called the town to ask for information. They told her she must be having a sewer line issue at her business.
But the Mayor of Franklinton doesn't believe there's a town-wide issue. He says they manage almost 2,000 meters and average, "10% of mishaps every month." He says they do their best to address what they're informed about, and encouraged residents to bring any issues forward.
And when Crosby visited Town Hall with her issue, once more, after we left Thursday afternoon, she says the utility department deleted the erroneous billing.
She says it's a start, that she hopes continues.
The mayor says residents should expect an increase in sewage rates near the end of the year to cover the cost of system-wide upgrades underway right now. The Town Council will vote on that rate increase before it takes place.
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