Utility Billing Error Frequently Asked Questions

How did the sewer billing error occur and how was it discovered?

Sanitary sewer base or winter average is the maximum amount the City will charge residential customers for sanitary sewer. Each month’s sanitary sewer charges are based on the lesser of consumption or sanitary sewer base. Annually, the City resets the sanitary sewer base for residential properties based on average water consumption for November through April with a 2,000 gallon per month minimum. The water used during these months is for domestic purposes inside the house and would go through the City’s sanitary sewer system. Additional water used in the summer is primarily for lawns or gardens and would go directly into the ground.

An incorrect formula was used to calculate the sanitary sewer base for the bills sent on February 1, March 1, April 1 and May 1. During review of the utility billing registers for those months staff discovered inconsistencies between what had been budgeted and actual results. Staff then conducted an in-depth evaluation and discovered the error.

How long have you known about this error?

The error was initially discovered in May of 2018. It was corrected for the June 1 and all subsequent bills. We have been working diligently to determine the extent of the problem and determine what steps needed to be taken to correct the error. 

How many accounts are affected?

Approximately 2,200 of the Cities 3,600 accounts were affected. 

Why didn’t it happen to all accounts?

Not all accounts use a sanitary sewer base to calculate sewer consumption. Commercial accounts and residential accounts with irrigation meters do not use a sanitary sewer base to calculate their sewer consumption. 

How can I tell if my account was affected?

The City will send letters to the affected customers during October of 2018. 

Where will the charge appear on my utility bill?

The charge will show up as an additional billing, separate from current charges. View a sample bill.

How will you collect amount due on undercharged accounts?

The City undercharged over a four month period and will plan to collect the amount over a four month period. The total amount will be divided evenly and included as an additional billing item on the November 1, December 1, January 1 and February 1 bills.

How much were accounts under-billed?

The average under-billing for a residential account was $34 over a four month period or $8.50 per month.

How can I be sure that my bill is correct now?

The reason we are aware of this error is due to the diligence of our current staff. Ensuring accurate billing is a high priority.  We have instituted more thorough procedures and processes for reviewing bill each month. 

Why is the amount of additional billing $23.75 higher than the amount from my letter?

If you participated in the City’s fall bulk iItem drop-off event on September 28 or 29, the fee has been added to your utility bill. The total fee is $23.75 ($20 plus taxes).

Who can help me if I have additional questions regarding the sewer billing error?

Please feel free to call utility billing at 952-548-6332 or send your questions via email to ub@hopkinsmn.com.