JWC billing under fire again

JENKINSVILLE – The question of how much water customers are being billed each month by the Jenkinsville Water Company is again under the microscope.

According to water reports delivered at the company’s regular monthly Board meeting on Monday evening by JWC’s water operator James Green, the company billed its 400+ customers for 2,829,285 gallons of water in March and 3,221,260 gallons in April – a 2 million gallon per month drop from what the company billed those same customers in January (5,307,070 gallons) and February (5,106,022). Prior to January, records show total monthly customer billings averaging in the 3 million range, just as they did in March and April.

“Something doesn’t match up here” customer Dee Melton told the JWC Board members. “You billed more than 5 million gallons of water in January and again in February, and then dropped back to about 3 million gallons in (each of) March and April. Those numbers shouldn’t fluctuate that much.” Melton said. “Is there a reason for this?”

“The plant shut down?” Board member Julie Brendell offered with a shrug of her shoulders.

“The readings come from water sales out of the office here,” Greg Ginyard, President of the JWC Board, said. “The amount of water that’s produced, the amount of water we purchase from Mid-County Water, Ms. Hollins does the amount of water we bill and that’s where those numbers come from,” Ginyard said.

“And we had a computer glitch,” Board member Preston Peach added, interrupting Ginyard, “and we had some double billings go out. But we caught it and changed that. I’m not sure,” Peach said.

“Does the Board approve these water reports?” Melton asked.

“We have to see them before we show them to the public,” Ginyard said.

“Is that an approval process?” Melton asked.

Several Board members mumble but give no answer.

“My question is why is there a 3 million gallon difference (in customer billing) between the January and February reports and the March and April reports?” Milton asked.

“Put that in writing and we’ll give you all that information,” Peach said.

“Mr. Melton, we can’t say how much water you used this month or how much anyone else used this month,” Ginyard said. “You don’t use the same exact amount of water every month. All we can go by when the guys read (the meter) and they bring it in the office and put it in the computer and it’s billed out by the number of gallons that were used, there’s no way we can say you may have had a leak. Things happen to change the meter reading.”

“My question is specifically about the amount of water billed to customers. Why was it 2 million gallons more per month in January and in February than it is in March and in April,” Melton repeated.

“We’ll get back to you at the next meeting,” Peach told Melton. “There are other reasons for the numbers being different. There are several reasons together that cause this.”

Questions about the monthly water report from those who attend the board meetings are an ongoing point of contention between the customers and the Board. There is frequent criticism from those in attendance that Green gives his report at the beginning of the meetings, then leaves without taking questions.

Earlier in the Monday evening meeting, following Green’s water report, Melton again asked if he could ask Green about the report.

“No Sir, not at this time,” Ginyard said as Green left the room.

“We’re going to move on,” Ginyard said. “Next we have open discussion for customers and visitors.”
But when customer and water company member Bertha Goins asked, “How did you arrive at the amount of increase (in water bills) for residents and commercial users?” more than a minute of silence ensued as Ginyard sat silent, looking down at the table.

When urged by others in the audience to answer Goins’ question, Ginyard spoke up.

“What we the Board had said was, any questions that anyone has, bring any questions to the office and we’ll answer them at that time. We would use up a lot of time and get into a back and forth, so I was instructed by board members that we would not be doing that (answering questions) at meetings.”

“Then, why should we even come to the meetings?” customer John Hones said, speaking up from the audience.
“To see what’s going on,” Ginyard said.

“These people here are not unruly. They are very polite and respectful. Gee whiz, courtesy calls for a simple answer,” Jones said.

Ginyard called for the next speaker.

Following an executive session that lasted more than an hour to address agenda items “contractual (new well), personnel and legal matters (Broad River Campground lawsuit),” the Board reviewed the company’s monthly financial statement. When The Voice asked for a copy of the statement, Ginyard refused, saying the Board had not yet approved it.

Following the meeting and approval of the financial statement, The Voice again asked for the statement.

“No, Ginyard said. “I will have to check with our attorney to see if we can give out financial reports…it’s not public information.”

JWC Board meetings are held the first Monday of each month at the company’s office at the intersection of Hwy 215 and Hwy 213 in Jenkinsville.

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