MUNROE FALLS, Ohio -- The Joyce family has lived in their Munroe Falls home for more than 20 years, never missing a water bill and paying $60 dollars a month on average.
However, six months ago, Lisa Joyce received a water bill for $4,416.20 from the city, who claims they've been undercharging the Joyce family for the last decade.
"We got the letter in March that we owed them this outrageous amount which is more than it takes to fill an Olympic size pool," explained Mrs. Joyce. "We're trying to figure out how they came up with their totals and how they did their math."
According to the city, the Joyce household consumed nearly 700,000 gallons of water between June 2001 and January 2012. Although there were discrepancies between the inside and outside meters, the city maintains the inside meter at the Joyce household has always been accurate and the responsibility lies with the homeowner to compare both meters and report any inaccuracies.
"I've asked people all over did you know it was your responsibility to check your own meter and they all say no. They don't even know where theirs is," said Mrs. Joyce.
She also questions how the city collected their data.
"They've never come in our house, we cannot remember once, and there's no record of them coming in to check our meters and they're supposed to check them every year," she said.
City law director Jack Morrison Jr. addressed the ongoing dispute via email saying, "If, through my investigation, I would have found evidence that the water meter was not properly working or that we had misread the meter in some fashion, then I would have very quickly made the necessary adjustment to the Joyce bill. However, in this case, that is not what was found. We found that the meter worked properly."
However in a recent letter to city leaders, County Councilman Steve Stahl empathized with the Joyce family saying, "Per Jim Bowery, the industry states about 33% of the outside readers are incorrect. This difference could easily have occurred over 23 years. I understand the city advises homeowners to compare the readings but in talking to other residents, the vast majority of them are unaware of this responsibility. I also think the city bears some responsibility in not demanding an inside read over this period of time. I have lived in my house since 1989. I connected to city water when I bought the house. No one has ever requested to come in and read the meter."
Susan Sherry, a nearby neighbor of the Joyce's, claims she experienced a similar water discrepancy.
"They billed us I think $1,500 dollars," said Mrs. Sherry. "This is just terrible what the city is doing to them and I don't want to have it happen to anyone else."
Although the city of Munroe Falls is now threatening to turn off the water at the Joyce residence, they are standing firm.
"I don't want to give them a dime until they prove to me somehow that we used the water and that we owe it," said Mrs. Joyce.