Software error changes Nixa sewer bills

NIXA, Mo. — A processing error for Nixa Utilities is leaving many customers with changed bills this month.

“What happened on November 6th was that our first cycle customers were all charged based on actual usage and none were charged based on average usage,” said Drew Douglas, Director of Communications at Nixa.

He said all customers who pay consumption rates will see no change to their bill.

The error means that if you spent less than your average, your bill could be lighter, which never hurts.

However, if you rely on this average to pay less, your meter may actually read your bill may have been accidentally inflated.

“We’re still getting used to a new software system, and that has something to do with the new system,” Douglas said. “We have figured out what the source of the error is and how to fix it in the future.”

Douglas said minor problems are not new with the newly implemented software, but this is the first time it has had negative consequences.

“This is a brand new system. We’re still adjusting to that. We implemented just this year in 2023 and we’re still working out the kinks and this is one of the kinks we’re working out where we’re trying to make sure everything runs smoothly and we’re working with the supplier to make sure everything is going to run smoother,” Douglas added.

Within hours of the Ozarks first reaching out, many utility customers received this letter from the city, which reads:

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“Some Nixa Utilities customers have been charged more than their average amount for sewer on bills sent out on November 6th and due on November 22nd. We apologize for the error. We understand the frustration you may have with this, and we work with clients to adjust fees to benefit the client.

Normally, Nixa Utilities customers are charged an average amount for the sewer portion of their bill (the average is calculated based on actual usage from January to March, or for customers moving in after March who request to be charged an average , the average is charged assuming 2,500 gallons used per person per month).

However, the error in our invoice generation process meant that these customers were charged for their actual usage instead of the average for that billing cycle.

For some, their actual consumption may be lower than average, so the sewer charge is lower than normal.

For others, the actual usage may be higher than their average, so they can call Nixa Utilities at 417-725-3229 to have the bill adjusted to the lower average amount for the sewer portion of the bill.

We have identified the cause of this problem and are committed to fixing it so this does not happen again.”

One of the affected customers is Josh Jarriel, who was charged nearly $100 for sewer alone.

“I looked at the individual charges on the bill and saw a discrepancy there, called Nixa Utilities, told them what I found on the bill after being on hold,” Jarriel said. “They told me it was a problem but didn’t really explain what the problem was and they said they would fix it, which they did.”

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Jarriel says the city’s quickness to not only acknowledge the situation, but correct it, is comforting and applauds the city’s transparency.

“I want people to know that this is a problem and that I don’t want people to pay extra on their bills,” Jarriel said. “I’m glad Nixa Utilities has stepped in and it looks like they’re trying to do it right.”

Douglas said people who believe their bills have been changed should take action.

“Our new system doesn’t allow us to like kind of blanket go in and adjust all the bills back to insert averages for all customers that are on average,” said Douglas “We’re just going to ask people that if your current sewer charge is higher than your average for the last few months, you can go ahead and call us and we’ll adjust it in your favor.”

Jarriel added that with Nixa Utilities as the sole source of utilities in the city, occasional third-party audits can help improve accuracy and expand transparency.

Nixa says the mistake should not happen again.