City government of the month: Brockton, MA
July 29, 2010
I feel kinda bad not giving it to Ann Arbor (see yesterday's post) and while Detroit is a perennial contender--one wag wrote recently, "Detroit's city council puts the dis in dysfunctional"--but, sorry, worthy contenders, Brockton's performance is simply too outstanding to ignore.
The Brockton Water Department has been inaccurately billing thousands of residents for more than a decade because of widespread failure in the city’s water meters, city officials said yesterday.
The city is seeking to reclaim millions in lost revenue that it says resulted from chronic undercharging for water usage, sending retroactive bills to customers, some for thousands of dollars. One woman said she received a bill for $100,000, which water officials said was probably a mistake. The Department of Public Works commissioner, Michael Thoreson, said the department also has mistakenly overcharged some residents. . . .
Thoreson said the problem stemmed from faulty water meters: Roughly 9,000 of the city’s 25,000 meters are not accurately reporting usage, he said.
Patrick Quinn, a member of the city Water Commission, which governs water rates, said most of those meters have probably been malfunctioning for at least five years and some for more than a decade, suggesting deep management problems in the department.