Glitches result with changes in billing for Lexington services

Lexington's new LEXserv City Services billing program has experienced hiccups as it has been rolled out this month.

One problem is some confusion created by collection notices sent by Kentucky American Water as the new program began.

Effective Sept. 1, Kentucky American Water stopped collecting fees related to the city's landfill, sanitary sewers and water-quality management. The city then hired Cincinnati Water Works to handle collection of the fees, the amounts of which did not change.

LEXserv bills have been mailed to about half of the roughly 115,000 accounts previously managed by Kentucky American Water, said Bill O'Mara, director of the city's Division of Revenue.

The customers on some of those accounts, though, might have been confused by a mailing from Kentucky American Water. About 2,600 customers with August bills that were not paid by a certain date received collection notifications that was mailed in early September, utility spokesman Charlie Boland said.

Because the August bill had the city's fees on it, those were included on the collection notices. Customers then received the LEXserv bill that also showed the fees, and some customers might have been confused, Boland said.

He said the utility would zero out the city fees on all customer accounts as of Saturday.

"We've updated all of our notifications and customer-service processes to let customers know to pay LEXserv rather than pay us," he said.

If a customer has paid the city fees twice, Boland said, the second payment should appear as a credit on a future LEXserv bill.

Among the confused customers is Kenneth Golphin of Lexington, who said he was billed twice and was having trouble sorting out the problem with customer-service employees from LEXserv and Kentucky American Water.

"I've talked to supervisors and everybody else," he said. He finally got the problem sorted out after phone calls and personal visits totaling more than six hours Monday.

O'Mara said the city as receiving about 200 calls a day to the LEXserv customer service line.

"Usually, those are informational," he said. "We really have only had a handful or so where we have had to do extensive research.

"We've been working with Kentucky American Water and talking to them almost every day."

Boland said another problem was that at least 21 water customers erroneously received a September bill that included the city's water-quality management fee.

A third glitch involves Kentucky American Water customers who had been on installment payment plans because of financial difficulties. Boland said the utility was contacting them to alert them that they'll need to work with LEXserv on how to pay the fees.

"There's 8 million details to deal with on a large switch-over like this," Boland said. "Overall we've been in constant communication with (the city) in trying to deal with anything that has come up.

"I feel that we've addressed anything we've known about."