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September 6--  The City of Vidalia has some 5,500 water customers and about 50 of them were shocked when their water bills arrived this month to see they had bills in the thousands of dollars.

City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield says it was a perfect storm that caused the bad billing, "We're up against some bad reads from the handhelds which came in and our ability to handle the edits.  Some of the edits slipped through the system and for that we apologize.  Usually we get it done before we send the bills out and for that we are very sorry."

Bedingfield says the city has some new meter readers who made mistakes reading meters.  In one case, a local bank got a bill for $400,000, "It was huge number and when you get some bad numbers put in the system and they come through, that's what it looks like and that's what got billed out."

Compounding the erroneous meter readings was the distraction of more than 800 meters which are turned off and have to be checked to insure no one is stealing water. Bedingfield reports the focus on checking those idle meters allowed the bad meter readings to get through the system, "We had idle meter reads that came in without a reading on any of them and we had to manually go in and try to put a read in there before we could even process bills."

Bedingfield urges customers who haven't already called to call City Hall to get their water bills corrected and also says those who pay online should have already had their online bills adjusted.

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