$25K sewer bills mailed to some homes

By The Associated Press

RICHMOND — Some eastern Indiana residents had a surprise in their mail this week when they received sewer bills topping $25,000.

The Richmond Sanitary District said the giant bills were sent by mistake and blamed it on a defective computer file used to prepare the statements, the Palladium-Item reported.

Sharrie Harlin’s monthly bill was for $25,677.66 — rather than its typical $40 to $50.

“I opened the bill, and all I could do was laugh,” Harlin said. “I couldn’t get upset. It’s not like I have $25,000 laying around here.”

Sanitary district attorney Walt Chidester said the office received about 50 calls from customers about the mistaken bills through Thursday.

“Some people were pretty angry,” he said. “We’ve stopped sending any of the bills out so we can go back through them.”

Chidester said the bad computer file produced hugely inflated water use figures for some customers who actually used little or no water. In a batch of 5,000 bills, 256 carried the higher charge and most were caught before being mailed to residents of the city about 60 miles east of Indianapolis.

“Our immediate concern is for people who have automatic deductions from their bank accounts.
We’re trying to identify all of those as quickly as we can,” he said.

Harlin said she called the sanitary district office to let staffers know about the mistake.

“They appreciated that I wasn’t mad at them,” Harlin said. “It’s really pretty funny. It’s only me in the house.”

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