Residents of Yonkers are being sent astronomically high water bills due to estimation errors from faulty digital meters. In recent days, a handful of residents have contacted us to report bills of anywhere from $1,200 to $7,000 for the six month billing period, when they typically expect bills to be just a couple hundred dollars.
Yonkers is divided into six water districts. Homes and businesses in each district are billed twice a year for their water usage. The current water rate is $4.51 per 100 cubic feet and the sewer rate is $1.17 per 100 cubic feet. Bills are mailed to account-holders which lists their meter number, usage, and total payment due. These payments can be delivered by cash, check, or paid online here: https://www.yonkersny.gov/services/make-a-payment/water-bill
In 2013, Mayor Mike Spano initiated a move to digital water meters. This change was spurred, Spano said, to “rectify the city’s long-term billing issues.” At the time, the city employed four dedicated meter readers to collect usage information from the old analog meters. But absent a true reading, estimates were sent that were often inaccurate. The hope with digital metering was that these usage data would be automatically transmitted via radio signal. Thus, estimates are eliminated when a city worker couldn’t physically come and read your meter. With the introduction of digital meters, these jobs were eliminated.
However, a decade later, these billing issues still exist. And the problem is still resulting from estimated readings. It is because these new digital meters have begun to fail. Specially, their radio antennas are faulty and not transmitting usage information reliably.
To remedy the situation, the city suggests sending evidence of your current reading. You can take a photograph of your meter and submit it with your account information directly to this city webpage.
So, instead of paid city workers to read your water meter, customers themselves are responsible to ensure accurate billing. When speaking with a representative from the city, they informed us that city is “exploring other options.” Explicitly citing the option to replace these meters again just a decade after their original installation.