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Delray Beach water meter's serial number mistakenly assigned to different address

Another water billing blunder leads mayor to wonder if 'incompetence' to blame
Posted at 4:54 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 16:55:06-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Another billing blunder in Delay Beach has taken a strange turn with a water meter mix-up.

It started earlier this month when Linda Polly shared her inconsistent water bills with Contact 5.

She initially became suspicious when charges for a sprinkler meter suddenly appeared on her bills last year and then suddenly disappeared.

Earlier this month, the city told Contact 5 that Polly's "account should have been updated and the sprinkler charges should have stopped" when a new irrigation reclaimed meter was installed in July 2015.

As a result, the city said it discovered a $5,000 mistake.

But after Contact 5 questioned the city's timeline, a spokeswoman said Polly's reclaimed meter had not been installed in 2015 but in 2018 and apparently wasn't linked to their account either.

reclaimed water meter cover in Delray Beach

A city spokeswoman told Contact 5 that an installer at the time mistakenly assigned the meter's serial number belonging to another address a street away.

"I am really puzzled," Polly said. "I do not know. There is some problem, somewhere."

Polly's neighbor one street away didn't want to go on camera but told Contact 5 that he notified the city in 2019 after getting billed for reclaimed water despite his meter being turned off.

It's unclear if the two are related, but the homeowner said the city gave him a small credit.

Mayor Shelly Petrolia, who's been outspoken and critical of the city's previous billing blunders, said she too asked for an explanation as to how the Pollys could have initially been credited from 2015 when no reclaimed water was in their area at the time.

Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia expresses concern about possible 'incompetence' with water meter billing issues
Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia says she is concerned about "incompetence" possibly contributing to the city's water billing blunders.

"Mistakes do happen, but there's also a factor of maybe incompetence and, whatever it is, we have got to get down to the bottom of this, so that we do not have this as a recurring problem for anybody in the city," Petrolia said. "It is unacceptable for anybody not to be able to trust the water bill that's coming from the city, so we have to find out what that issue is and correct it."

Polly said she's now waiting for the city to provide her with a breakdown of the updated $505 credit the city says she's due.

She's also encouraging her fellow neighbors to check their water bills carefully.

Linda Polly: 'I don't think I can be the only one in the city that this has happened to'
"I don't think I can be the only one in the city that this has happened to," Delray Beach resident Linda Polly says after her water meter's serial number was mistakenly assigned to another address. "I think that would be really strange. I think there must be other problems in the city."

"I don't think I can be the only one in the city that this has happened to," Polly said. "I think that would be really strange. I think there must be other problems in the city."

The city is in the process of trying to hire an outside forensic auditor to examine meters and bills.

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