Money is typically tight at Christmas, but many Savannah residents were shocked by high water bills in their mailbox.
It’s been the talk of social media and homes around the city.
Some residents are seeing water bills that are up to 20 times their normal amount, coming in at $400 or even $17,000.
No one seems to have any answers.
“I about hit the floor. That’s a lot of water,” explained Curtis Swagert when he saw his $418 bill this month.
“Instantly called a plumber had them come out, check the house, toilets, spigots outside, washing machine,” said Swagert. “They found nothing said there’s no leaks on the property.”
He said he even dug out the meter to take a reading of his own.
Swagert said every bill since 2016 has been the same, under $100, until this one. So he called the city for help.
“Basically I was told they were right,” said Swagert. “There’s nothing that was read wrong, and like I said I’m at fault. But I’m not at fault. We didn’t do anything wrong.”
Last Monday, Jennifer Piscopo opened up a bill for $17,020.
“What do you think when you see a $17,000 bill?”
“I think i’m going out of business,” she said.
Piscopo has been working to build her business for five years. She says bills never climbed above $400 until now.
“I talked to a supervisor, she said it was a legitimate back pay that I owed,” explained Piscopo. “She was going to talk to a supervisor, have them reread the meter.”
Sue Aaron has been dealing with a big water bill since 2016. She says that’s when the city told her a city billing issue led to a $900 price tag.
“They told me it was a billing glitch and we didn’t get a bill for four cycles,” explained Aaron. “Even if he didn’t bill me for a full year that doesn’t equal $900.”
Aaron says she sends in money each month to whittle down the bill, but that late fees keep getting added.
Now that bill is more than $1,200.
“At this time we have found no systemic or far reaching issues will billing,” said Saja Aures of the City of Savannah Revenue Department
Aures says the only way the city knows about a problem is if people tell them about it.
“Don’t just write a check to us, don’t ignore it, obviously but reach out to us as soon as you can,” she said. “Sometimes on social media, there can be a group think mentality, are people trying to egg each other on a little bit. Bills aren’t fun to pay, whatever amount they are, so its not unusual for people to complain, just because bills are tough.”
Aures acknowledged a higher usage but said that the reason behind the higher usage needs to be addressed.
“If they can’t get to a meter in a certain amount of time that bill will be estimated,” she said. “But if you look on your bill, there will be a line that lets you know it is an estimated bill. You can call them to get someone out to get a recheck.”
Aaron just wants it addressed, and her bill fixed — now.
“l just want them to fix it. I pay my bills, just fix it,” said Aaron. “Lets get on with life, I have more to worry about than water bills.”
Piscopo actually got the city to fix her bill, so she won’t have to pay the entire $17,000.
Revenue department officials tell News 3 they will review Aaron and Swagert’s cases individually to determine what if any changes have to be made.
They also tell us if they can’t get to your meter they will send an adjusted bill. That bill could be lower based on historical usage, and adjusted later when they can reach the meter.
If you have questions or concerns about your bill, give the Revenue Department a call at 912-651-6460.
You can also go online at savannahga.gov/customercontact