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Port Clinton residents outraged by water bills

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PORT CLINTON, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Unusually high water bills have a lot of people in the city of Port Clinton upset. Ice and freezing temps kept city workers away from reading meters all winter, and now residents say they're paying for it.

"It makes me mad. It makes me down right mad," said Port Clinton resident Theresa Mazur

Mazur says she received a bill for nearly double the usual amount, and she's not the only one.

"I called the water department to find out why it was like that and they're telling me, 'look at your bill. It says right on your bill that your water is going to be adjusted because they can't get to your meter," said Mazur.

City officials say, because of the winter we've had, snow piles were too high for workers to actually come out and read meters, so instead, they made an estimate.

Nearly a thousand residents paid an estimated amount in December, January and February. The city says these new bills reflect the difference for residents who under or over paid.

"We're no different than the electric company, gas company. Obviously if there's more usage, you're going to be charged more," said Port Clinton Mayor Vincent Leone.

Officials with the water department add that opening meters with temperatures below zero can be dangerous.

"Meters could freeze immediately with the subzero temperatures. Also, some meters are under snow drifts, so they aren't able to go out and shovel everybody's snow drifts to get to the meter," said Water Works Office Manager Julie Frattaroli.

For residents like Mazur, who say this month's bill is taking food out of her children's mouths, that's not a good enough answer.

"If the mailman can come and deliver our mail, and the garbage company can come and pick up your garbage coming over the snow drifts, then I think that they can be able to come over those drifts and measure our water meters too. It's just cheating," said Mazur

The city is offering payment plans to those who are unable to pay the bill in full.

"We're treating it on a case-by-case basis. It depends on what their situation is, what their bill has accumulated to," said Frattaroli.

Mother of three Anne-Marie Olson says she and her boyfriend are taking advantage of that plan after their usual $60 bill jumped to $525.

"It's definitely going to affect our living expenses. Obviously, we'll have to figure something out, otherwise it will be turned off," said Olson.

Olson found out Monday morning an air pocket in her toilet may have been at fault for the high usage.

"It just didn't make sense to me why it never showed before," said Olson.

City leaders say anyone questioning their bill should stop by water works immediately to have the bill reviewed and possibly adjusted.

If you have a consumer complaint you would like some help with, our Call 11 for Action team is here for you.  You can call at 419-255-22-55, or file an online complaint here: http://www.toledonewsnow.com/category/1993/call-11-for-action-from-wtol-toledonewsnow.

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