On Your Side: Springfield veterans group gets nearly $6,000 dead gas meter bill

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:36 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield veterans group will have to dig deep and pay thousands for what it calls a surprise bill. Kirby Wilcox Bicentennial American Legion Post 676 got a letter saying its gas meter had been dead for months.

It’s an on-going issue On Your Side has covered for about a year now.

The notice says the meter was not reading correctly, and you must pay the difference. In December, On Your Side warned around five-hundred City Utilities customers were about to get these bills. The American Legion Post on Springfield’s north side now has a nearly $6,000 bill. The adjustment amount is $5,880.13. These dead meter bills are based on previous usage estimates.

General Manager Ann Humphreys says for the next few months, they can’t give back like they want. Even though the CU notice says it’s “no fault of your own”.

“Such a slap in the face,” said Humphreys. “What kind of business dealings is that? You don’t get to do that, but they did. It’s going to come out of the charity side of our budget. Which is for veterans and we try to do a lot for the little kids on the north side. it’s going to come right out of their pockets. We didn’t have that budgeted.”

Humphreys says they’ve been paying their power bills. The electricity, water, and sewer, but didn’t think anything of the low gas amount. She says she was told their meter stopped reading correctly in April 2020.

“April of 2020 is when we were shut down for COVID. April 6th, the stay-at-home order, we were shut down. I did notice a drop in our utilities. I went back and verified that. But we were closed. I didn’t think anything of it. And we were closed for a really long time,” Humphreys said.

“For a place like CU, $6,000 is a drop in the bucket. For a place like this, that’s a huge investment,” said Veteran Jim Downing. He’s a regular at Post 676. He hopes there will be an exception. “You would think they would consider the not-for-profit status of this place.”

“In twenty-seven months, they never noticed there was a problem? Who is watching these meters? Who is in charge of this?” asked Humphreys.

Questions On Your Side wanted to ask CU, but our interview request for this story was declined. We were told in an email from a spokesperson CU is ‘re-evaluating the billing’.

An attorney representing this American Legion post sent a letter to City Utilities asking about the bill and if a ‘downward adjustment’ could be made.

The CU spokesperson told On Your Side, they can’t comment ‘until these issues have been resolved.’ The spokesperson when on to write, ‘This is an unfortunate situation, and we are taking every opportunity to resolve this in the best way possible for all.’

CU has repeatedly told On Your Side, to waive dead meter bills would take a policy change, approved by the CU board.

“I want them to know how devastating this is to an individual, to a business, to a non-profit ... really? Are you kidding me? No one is getting rich here.” said Humphreys.

Humphreys says if they’re stuck with the bill, the veterans group will need a payment plan.

“If that’s the best they will offer us. We don’t have any choice. If you’re going to keep your utilities on ... they know that. They’ve got this figured out. They know how this works.”

According to CU policy, for residential accounts, they can only bill up to 12 months for a dead meter. For commercial accounts, like this American Legion post, it’s up to five years. Which includes the pandemic shutdowns. So it could be hard for businesses to spot a dead meter. Review your bills and compare months. If you see a huge drop, that could be a red flag. Contact CU.

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