GURLEY, Ala. (WHNT) — Homeowners in Gurley are struggling to understand why their water bills are sky-high for the month of January. 

Nicholas Damron told News 19 that his bill of $500 came with a letter that says the reading is from regular usage. 

“It’s just a tough time of the year in a tough economy to dump that load on a family and say good luck,” Damron said. “It seemed like it was ten times what it normally was, and the usage was astronomical.” 

A letter from Huntsville Utilities stated that the reading was accurate. Damron says that when he inquired about the bill on Monday, Huntsville Utilities said that they are no longer responsible for the meter readings. 

“Huntsville Utilities was not willing to help or hear us out at all at the time,” he said. 

Huntsville Utilities contracted out the reading of the water meters to a third party, Bermex, which began reading the meters in 2022. Madison County Water Department is set to begin reading water meters for HU customers in late March 2023.

The letter Damron received also said Huntsville Utilities underestimated those readings since June and that they are just catching up on past readings. Meaning, all past or missed water meter readings have been billed to customers all at once.  

“We later learned with more inquiries with Madison County that they tier the bill where the first 25,000 gallons you use is at a low rate and then it gets higher and higher,” Damron explained. “A portion of our bill was at the highest rate and that made our bill exponentially higher than it should have been,”  

As a result of the News 19 inquiry, Huntsville Utilities contacted Damron and said that they were going to have the meter reading contractor that failed to read meters pay half of their $500 water bill. 

Huntsville Utilities also said in a statement that if any customer feels they have been overbilled to contact them immediately.