Missouri American Water failed to pay bills to city

City: Utility hadn’t paid for wastewater service for years

A customer service page (partial screenshot above) on Missouri American Water's website displays a sample utility bill and touts the company's improved "billing capabilities and flexibility." Jefferson City officials say the water company recently reimbursed the city over $9,000 after failing to pay its own wastewater bill during a period prior to 2012 when the utility handled wastewater billing for the city.

A customer service page (partial screenshot above) on Missouri American Water's website displays a sample utility bill and touts the company's improved "billing capabilities and flexibility." Jefferson City officials say the water company recently reimbursed the city over $9,000 after failing to pay its own wastewater bill during a period prior to 2012 when the utility handled wastewater billing for the city.

Jefferson City has collected more than $9,000 from Missouri American Water after it was discovered the company failed to bill itself for wastewater service.

But that amount is just what the city is legally allowed to recoup.

The city took over wastewater billing from Missouri American Water in January 2012.

Eric Seaman, the city’s wastewater division director, said the city discovered Missouri American had not been paying a wastewater bill since the utility took over wastewater billing for the city in 1984.

“They just never paid,” Seaman said. “They neither billed nor paid any bill in that period.”

Seaman said the company has been billed $9,044 for the past five years of service, because legally the city cannot recoup more than five years of the costs. Seaman said the money would be put into the city’s wastewater fund.

Seaman said the city also is unable to levy any fine or penalty because the company was not being billed, even though the company itself was in charge of billing.

Ann Dettmer, communications manager for Missouri American Water, said the company did make an error in its wastewater billing, and the company asked the city to send a bill. Dettmer said the company paid the bill Sept. 30.

“We did make an error in terms of sewer billing for our plant,” Dettmer said.

Bob Watson of the News Tribune contributed to this story.

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