SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – In December 2022, City Utilities issued a heads-up to users that dead meters could result in back charges for utility usage despite faulty equipment.
Just before February, the American Legion Post 676 was notified of what City Utilities said they owed for a period of time before this year.
General Manager Ann Humphreys says the organization owes, currently, $5,880.13 from the months of April 2020 to June 2022.
“They said ‘we estimated what your bill would have been’, Humphreys said. “During a global pandemic? You got those facts? You can’t have those facts. That’s not right. We weren’t open.”
Humphreys says members are still in shock.
“That pandemic was tough on everybody, then to get hit by city utilities for $6,000 when we weren’t even open, that’s not right,” Humphreys said. “If they would do it to the veterans, they’re going to do it to anybody.”
Another person who felt it wasn’t right is Sun Solar owner Caleb Arthur.
Arthur has launched a GoFundMe to raise $3,000 for the post and pledged to match the donated money dollar for dollar.
KOLR10 spoke to Arthur who says his motivation is helping veterans.
“I just was like, you know, there’s got to be something that I can use my platform for,” Arthur said. “I could just tell that she was so, so just genuine and nice about what she does there.”
“He came by and he said, you know, what can I do to help the community?” Humphreys said. “Support has been wonderful. People have shown a lot of concern. To have someone like Caleb, anyone to step up and help, we didn’t think of that happening at the time.”
KOLR10 reached out to City Utilities who sent us a statement but wouldn’t talk on camera.
In that statement, one paragraph reads, “As we said in December, this is an unfortunate situation, and we are taking every opportunity to resolve this in the best way possible for all. This account is a good example of why we ask customers to contact us about this and any billing issue or question.”
The statement also says, “The customer has contacted us, and based on new information; we are in the process of reevaluating the billing. Also, legal representatives from CU and the customer are also in discussions and as with any topic, we will not respond until these issues have been resolved.”
Arthur says through his business, he has a good relationship with utility companies but there are things groups can work on.
“Part of me feels outraged that utilities can have a billing system set up to where they don’t catch this for like two years and then send somebody a letter like, Hey, you owe $6,000,” Arthur said.
Humphreys says the rest of their budget goes to charities and other community-based groups, which will suffer when money usually donated to them will have to go towards the CU bill.
Arthur tells KOLR10, he hopes this effort and the situation overall is a wake-up call to put a spotlight on support for Veterans.
Humphreys says if the GoFundMe raises more money than intended, that extra amount would go back into charities.