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Reedsville man takes issue with water service

REEDSVILLE — Rodney Wolfe said he moved into the old Reedsville school in 2018. Since he moved in, he said, he has problems with his water service.

“Ever since January of 2019, my bill has fluctuated between 4,000 and 11,000 gallons a month,” Wolfe said. “For example, my November bill said I used 4,576 gallons of water and my December bill said 10,952 gallons.”

Wolfe lives on the second story of the old school building. His business, Old School Pizzeria, is on the ground floor. He said he recently reopened the business.

Wolf said he has also filed a complaint against Public Service District 1 with the Public Service Commission for water cutoffs, not receiving notifications about potential cut offs and his water bills.

He said all of the water lines in his building are visible. He said none of them are in the walls, and none of them are leaking.

“Nine of the 12 months during COVID, I was here alone. I use paper plates and plastic silverware. I don’t do laundry here. I turned off the dishwasher. My sinks and commodes are turned off, unless I am using them,” Wolfe said. He said this also applied to his business.

Wolfe said he recently had an agreement with one of the PSD 1 clerks to make a payment on his water bill that Friday.

“On Thursday, I turned on the sink and the water was off. I called to talk to the lady I had the agreement with and was told she was out and would be back at 3,” he said. “I called numerous times between 3 and closing time for the office, and there was no answer. I called back the next morning and was told she was on vacation.

“I asked to talk to the supervisor, Danny Layton, and he told me he ordered the cut off because 90 days had expired. I told him I had an agreement to make the payment on Friday (the next day). He told me he didn’t care about the agreement.”

When contacted, Layton said the minimum water bill in Reedsville is $51.92. He said when a customer is behind on payments, they are either sent a certified letter or notified in person about pending cutoffs. Layton said once a customer is notified, the water is turned off within 10 days.

“People are upset we are doing this,” he said. “When a bill is 20 days delinquent, we send out a 10-day notice. We have to draw a line in the sand. That’s the way its going down now.”

Wolfe said he received no phone calls, and there were no tags on his door prior to the shut-off. He said this wasn’t the first time this happened, adding his water was turned off on another occasion when both of his doors were propped open and no one called out to him or tried to collect the bill.

Layton said when an agreement is in effect, the person has to sign an agreement stating they will pay their current bill and $100 on their delinquent bill.

“We’re not a bank,” he said. “We have people who work every day and expect a paycheck. I made an argument with the PSC — a new tap costs $350. I spend nearly $2,000 to put one in, by the time I buy the meter, the lid and dig up for the line and pay the workers.

“The PSC says we’ll make the money back in five years. I keep telling the PSC that PSD 1 is not a bank. I have employees and work we have to do every day. I’ve been doing this for over 40 years.

“Overall, I’ve always been a pretty reasonable person,” Layton said. “I get short-tempered over time. Everyone has hard times. We’ve all been there. But this is a business, and we try to run it as a business.”

Wolfe said he had a master plumber   check out his building. He said the master plumber couldn’t find any leaks or problems with his water lines.

“Anyone can look at my water usage and tell there is a problem,” he said. “There are months when my water and sewer is as much as my mortgage. With all my trips and calls to PSD 1, not one employee has come to my residence and walked inside to try and help me figure out what the issue is. I can’t continue paying these bills.

“It’s bad enough a customer has to go through what I am going through, but the way you are spoken to and lied to by the folks at PSD 1 is uncalled for,” Wolfe said. “I did an event for kids and he (Layton) told me I should have used the money to pay my water bill. I didn’t pay for it. The event was done with donations from local businesses and residents.”

Wolfe said he believes the problem is in the electronic water meter. He said he was told it would only be changed if he paid for it.

Susan Small, communications director for the state Public Service Commission, said there have been four complaints about PSD 1 in June and July. She said one of them was about back flow, one was a billing complaint and two about terminations.

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