Katrina Pullen says the monthly water bill for the one bedroom trailer she rents in Morehead City is usually $30.00 to $40.00. So you can imagine the shock when she got a bill for $2, 146.24.
Pullen says, "The lady, when she called and talked to me on the phone she was like, take a deep breath, your bill is $2,000. And I said how in the world does a $2,000 water bill come from a one bedroom trailer?"
Pullen says she was notified in the mail that she had a leak, so she contacted the landlord who had the plumber come out and fix it as soon as she got the letter.
So who's responsible for the bill? Pullen says she can't afford it. What about the landlord?
Vernon Hill is the landlord. He says, "The town should pay for it because we're all taxpayers and we have no problem with a act of God or a pipe breaking and we don't know until we're notified."
Morehead City Public Utilities Director Daniel Williams couldn't comment on Pullen's account, but says they do have a policy for these situations.
Williams says if a customer is new--Pullen has only lived here a year-- and experiences an unseen leak, public utilities has to establish a baseline of the customer's water use so they can give the customer a fair and accurate credit.
During that time they ask the customer to pay their normal bill. They don't charge any late fees and don't interrupt services.
Williams says once that history is established, the account will be credited.
But Pullen says she's not getting the answers she needs fast enough.
Pullen says, "All they keep telling me at the water department is that my credit is pending. They won't tell me how much credit I'll get or when."
Hill says the bill would have been a lot less expensive had the city notified his tenant sooner.
Pullen says she pays $100.00 each month to try and gradually pay off the bill, until her account is possibly credited.