Copperas Cove resident Theresa Deans continued her streak of attending city council meetings April 2 as she again made the case for higher scrutiny on the city’s third party water supplier.
“We’re still having issues with inconsistent water billing, and extremely poor customer service. The truth of the matter is, it is not working well,” Deans told city council members. “We are having far too many citizens reaching out and having problems with service.
“We’re trying to do the best we can with what we have, but right now with Fathom, we don’t have much.”
In the past two years, several council members and residents have called for a magnifying glass to be held over Fathom, ever since problems with smart meters were reported as early as when Fathom took over Cove water in 2016.
Overbilling and unwarranted disconnecting of water supply have been reported by several residents.
During the April 2 council meeting, Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah provided an update to residents regarding Fathom complaints.
Haverlah recognized that an update to the utility billing portal online has caused customers to mistakingly schedule water bill payments after due dates. Despite this, the interim city manager said city staff is working with customers who have problems with this technicality.
“We had a customer who experienced that ... That customer was late, and was past the disconnect date,” Haverlah said. “This customer was contacted and revised their due date to ensure their due date was on time.”
Moreover, Austin-based auditing company Weaver & Tidwell in February presented a review of 141 utility accounts in Cove, which included 123 resident accounts, 13 senior accounts and five commercial accounts.
There was only one error identified in a senior account, resulting in a reported $2.56 overbilling as a result of a senior discount miscalculation. Of the 141 individual statements recalculated by Weaver & Tidwell for accuracy, according to McCain, 134 statements were found to be within 1 cent of Fathom’s billing.
Haverlah said city staff will continue to work with Fathom to address customer concerns.
“We’ve talked about this the past year, but one thing we can do is look back at customers’ bills,” Haverlah said. “As we continue, we’ve resolved a lot of issues.”