Is it possible that Naperville city officials have little if any respect for its residents? If sending out incorrect utility bills twice to over two-thousand residents is a measurement, then city officials appear to have no respect for the time residents invest in figuring out their utility bills. I happened to be one of the 2,000+ residents receiving the incorrect bills.
It was a Saturday and I came home after supporting a family member in the hospital, so it was a long but necessary day. I tend to be OC so I always have to go thru the mail before turning out the lights at night. I opened my City of Naperville utility bill and the bill was dated 4/21/18 with a due date of 3/14/18. Even more baffling was the bill showed a payment of $1,591.32 with a credit balance of -$407.81. How could the due date be before I received the bill, and how could they be showing a a huge payment being made that I didn’t make, especially for that dollar amount?
I was alarmed thinking that I had sent the wrong check to the City, which meant that another creditor didn’t get the check they should have received. It looked as if I had some explaining to do to someone if I could figure out who that ‘someone’ was. I invested a few hours trying to solve the brain teaser, with no success.
On Monday I called the City finance department and they said there was a billing error, and that I would be receiving a corrected bill. That same day I received the ‘new and improved ‘ bill but this one was screwed up too. The bill was dated 4/25/18 with a due date of 4/14/18 and again the dollar amounts made no sense.
The following day (Tuesday) I went to the city with bills-in-hand to get clarification of what I owe, and when is it due, and this is when it really gets interesting. The cashier made her best effort to explain the situation but apparently her supervisor or the department head gave her no help in advance for fielding questions. She said it was a ‘computer problem’ and only ‘couple of people were billed incorrectly’. I asked her if anybody oversees the billing, and she responded, ‘nobody oversees the billing’. I wanted to help the staff member, so I asked if I could speak to a supervisor, who happened to be five feet away and heard the conversation.
The supervisor said, “the billing team noticed the wrong billing date was entered and without a garbage fee” and that there are 22 billing cycles with each cycle having about 2,200 customers (bills). I asked if there was an announcement made anywhere informing residents of the error, and she said “the decision was made to do nothing (no communication) and wait for the new billing”.
So the City rather than letting the good folks of Naperville know, decided to let the folks figure it out themselves, or have city staff members (like the cashier I spoke with) deal with hundreds of phone calls, or people like me appearing at the Municipal Center trying to figure out what was going on. I asked the supervisor if the City had learned anything from this error, and she replied, “the utility billing group had conversations about changing the process”. That’s code for ‘the city didn’t learn anything.
City officials made absolutely no effort to inform residents of the error. Nothing was announced at the city council meeting, no mention on the city website, nothing on TV public access station, nothing mentioned by Naperville’s 10th council member (The Naperville Sun). Shame on city officials for doing nothing to help the rate payers understand the situation., Apparently transparency has no action and no words.