K im Davis says she's always paid the property taxes and utility bills on her Syracuse home on Teall Avenue on time and in full. So she was shocked last week when the Syracuse Water Department followed through on its threat to turn off her water service over nothing more than ther replacement of a water meter.
On July 24, Davis received a letter from the Water Department complaining that crews did not have access to the property to read the water meter. Davis told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that she divides her time between living at the Teall Avenue home and another outside the city.
Davis says that when the meter reader shows up, he or she will leave a notice on the door knob. Davis says she will then read the meter in her basement herself, phone in the reading and pay the bill when it arrives.
The letter gave Davis until August 16 to set up an appointment for a crew to install a new remote meter which can be read from outside the building. The letter contained a warning: "Failure to do so (schedule an appointment) will result in an interruption of water service on August 20, 2012 or anytime thereafter without further notice."
The letter also stated she would be required to pay a $140.00 fee to have the water turned back on.
Davis says she has no problem with having a new water meter installed but feels the city is taking a hard line by shutting off water service when people can't schedule an appointment. Davis says she called twice to schedule an appointment. The first time she called, she says she was put on hold and could not stay on the line because she was driving.
Davis says she tried again on September 7. At the time, the water service had not been turned off. During the conversation, Davis says the Water Department representative mentioned the service had already been shut off.
"I told her why would you shut off my water when I'm paid up?" says Davis. She says the woman told her not to raise her voice and then she says her cell phone lost service.
When she returned to her home, the water had been shut off.
"Why should I be forced to pay $140.00 to have my water turned back on when my bill is paid up?" Davis said.
She showed Kenyon documentation to prove that she had paid her water bill. Davis says she complained to the city's office of constituent services, but was told there was nothing they could do.
Kim Davis then decided to contact CNY Central because, she says "the city needs a lesson in customer service."
This afternoon, Mayor Stephanie Miner's office issued the following statement:
"The City of Syracuse is currently in the process of transitioning our water customers to a radio-based system that will improve accuracy and efficiency in our billing practices. Out of 38,400 households currently being switched to the system, 75% have successfully transitioned. Customers are being notified by mail and given a 30-day window in which to respond. While most customers have contacted the water department and scheduled appointments, not all have done so. We encourage city water customers to read any mail they receive from the Department of Water and contact us as soon as possible to make arrangements for the installation of equipment."