Water bills are on their way for Lone Pine and Independence

independence.jpgWater customers in Lone Pine and Independence have not received water bills for about four months since Inyo County gave up Owenyo Services operating the systems and contracted with the company of Wilder-Barton. Now, many fear they will receive four months’ worth of bills at one time and not be able to pay the bills. We talked to the head of Inyo Public Works and one of the owners of Wilder-Barton.

Inyo County Public Works Director Clint Quilter said the billing software used by the previous company, Owenyo, was unusable. So, there have been problems getting bills out. Quilter said that maintenance of the systems is now up to speed and the County wants to make sure meters are being read.

Quilter also said that phones have been a problem and that this has been fixed. The Wilder-Barton office in Lone Pine is now open next to Lone Pine TV. The phone number is 760-258-5021.

But what about the burden of four months of water bills? Quilter said, “We recognize these bills are close together. This will be taken into account.” I asked him what he meant by that. Quilter said there will be no late fees and there may be adjustments to the due date. Will residents’ water be shut off if they can’t pay? Quilter said, no.

Quilter said July-August bills will go out first followed by September – October. These periods of the year include the highest water use and the highest cost for residents.

Floyd Barton, one of the owners of Wilder-Barton, essentially grew up in the Owens Valley. His father, also Floyd Barton, was the Sheriff of Inyo County back in the 70s and 80s. He knows the territory, and he said he knows the hold-up on the water bills is due to “inheriting an inaccurate data base.” Barton said there was no way to go from the data base to pages in the route books. He said for his company to develop a bill, it takes a data base, a route with service information and a meter number for the correct piece of property.

Barton said he could not attest to what was done before Wilder-Barton took over. He did verify that his crews are reading meters. He said there have been numerous people with discrepancies in water usage. Barton said they are going through every account to make sure they are accurate. He said bills are now going out. He also said the bills will be for two-month periods. The first bills are from July and August. September and October are next.

Barton verified what Quilter said – no late fees. He added that the water systems have been “neglected for a very long time.” Barton said the systems are not in compliance right now but that his contract with the County saves them $100,000 per year. Wilder-Barton has operated large and small water systems in several locations over time.

 

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6 Responses to Water bills are on their way for Lone Pine and Independence

  1. Philip Anaya November 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    How about a billing for the current usage . Double that billing to /for the previous unbilled periods. Give folks an adequate time to pay.( I like not cutting off anyone’ s life stream of water. Are you listening DWP with regards to West Bishop domestic wells gone dry?) and get everyone going forward into the future, slates clear and clean .Cheaper and appreciated in the long run. Everyone will pay their bill and will look forward to the improved new management by Wilder-Barton . Why are we the County of Inyo laying this on the new Management to resolve ?

     
  2. Waxlips November 6, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Four months still no bill… They’ve proved to be proved themselves to be a true Inyo county business, Zero customer service.

     
  3. Wayne Deja November 8, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    ..Relax……My guess is,this new company will work with those on fixed-incomes and can’t afford the full 4 months of water usage they weren’t billed for during this change……

     
    • Floyd J. Barton December 15, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      Please see my reply.

       
  4. Floyd J. Barton December 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Philip Anaya, Waxlips, Wayne Deja,

    I regret you have not received your bill, as many have.
    We, at Wilder Barton Inc., are working diligently to verify the accuracy of each and every one of the three water system’s accounts.
    I am well aware of your and all customer’s frustration with the perceived failure of the operational and billing transfer. Let me assure you that we have not sent out bills because we are only going to send out a bill that we are confident in it’s accuracy, with the data we have at the time it is produced. I will admit, my confidence it the data of accounts we received after acquisition was very low. Consequently, we are checking, verifying and correcting each and every line, of every page, of each and every account of all three town water systems.
    A daunting task would be a under statement.

    Our foremost responsibility is the supply of clean, safe drinking water to you and our communities, by means of a water system that is professionally operated, in compliance with all Federal and State regulations. With that said, we are building a completely new utility management system that will ensure complete accuracy of everyone’s account, so all of us can be confident that every bill is accurate, all moneys received are accounted for, correctly credited and delivered to the Inyo County Treasury, with transparency.

    I personalty am striving to move these three water systems forward. Each and every penny spent must improve these systems, away from pencil and paper record keeping, unreliable / non-functioning system control and monitoring systems, estimated / unread and broken water meters.

    Yes, we have had glitches along the way, the phone auto answering while busy / phone in use, was a frustrating one for me as well.

    Our office in Lone Pine at 221 Jackson street is open and staffed at this time, from 07:00 till 17:00 ( 7:00AM-5:00PM ) Monday – Friday. (760) 258-5021
    e-mail, inyocountywatersystem@suddenlink.net

    If I may be of any assistance to you may contact me directly at (760) 937-2245.

    Respectfully,

    Floyd “Justin” Barton
    Wilder Barton Inc.

     
  5. Wayne December 16, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    “…all moneys received are accounted for, correctly credited and delivered to the Inyo County Treasury, with transparency…”

    With that in mind, when LA DWP turned the water systems over to Inyo County the systems were known to be in need of expensive repairs. Rather than doing the work DWP gave the County several million dollars, which “…was credited and delivered to the Inyo County Treasury, with transparency…”. Since that time a “Structural Deficit” has developed in the “County Treasury”. We all appreciate your support of transparency and request the funds provided by DWP for these repairs be fully accounted for and, along with earned interest, be deposited in an appropriate account expressly dedicated to the necessary repairs to bring these systems up to a “water system that is professionally operated, in compliance with all Federal and State regulations”.

     

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