LOCAL GOVERNMENT

COPPERAS COVE — A highly anticipated audit on Copperas Cove utility accounts returned little cause for concern Tuesday night, according to officials.

Several dozen residents were present for the Cove City Council meeting, in which Austin-based Weaver & Tidwell presented findings after examining 1 percent of water accounts with Fathom, the city’s third-party water supplier. The audit came at a cost of $16,000, paid by city water and sewer funds.

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.

Adam McCain, Weaver & Tidwell representative, presented the review of 141 utility accounts, 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.

McCain also pointed out that 64 accounts exhibited fluctuating monthly water consumptions of around 10 percent, but said that wasn’t a cause for concern.

“We see comsumption vary pretty wildly,” McCain said. “Ten percent isn’t outrageous. That doesn’t indicate an error.”

Council members did not call for an expanded follow-up audit Tuesday night, but ultimately agreed to be more proactive in nailing down issues as they present themselves.

Councilwoman Joann Courtland was one advocate for a more comprehensive look into utility accounts.

“I don’t think 140 accounts is enough data,” Courtland said. “I’m not sure which is the best way, but we do need a deeper dive into this.”

Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Yancey said more specific audits may come in the future if council and city staff focus in on one particular area of concern.

Some residents attending Tuesday night’s meeting were adamant about continuing issues with Fathom. Copperas Cove resident Theresa Deans made the case for higher scrutiny on the water company as she has in several meetings before.

“We’re three years in with Fathom,” Deans said. “We’re light years away from solving the problems.”

mpayne@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7553

Herald staff writer

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