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Condo property manager says her association has overpaid water bills by more than $330K

Jackson Water and Sewer Business Administration.
Jackson Water and Sewer Business Administration.(WLBT)
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 7:20 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - One woman says her condominium unit has been overcharged on its water bills for years, and now it’s time for that extra charge to be brought to a halt.

Jean Comley, property manager and resident of Chateau Royal, a condominium complex in Northeast Jackson, spoke to the Jackson City Council Tuesday.

She estimates the Chateau Royal Homeowners Association has collectively paid more than $330,000 in residential water meter fees over the last four and a half decades, even though residential meters there were removed in 1974.

“We don’t want the money back,” she said. “We want to stop paying.”

Instead of a refund, she said the association would like the condominiums to be included in the city’s next round of infrastructure improvements.

In particular, she would like the city to replace the complex’s aging water lines, something that she believes would be cheaper than refunding the alleged overpayment.

“It’s about $270,000 – well under the amount that we have paid,” Comley said, “which is a bargain for them.”

Comley discovered the overpayment when she took over as the association’s property manager several years ago.

She said when she was reviewing the records, she found the city had been charging the condominiums a fee for residential meter service since at least 1975.

However, all of the residential meters and lines at the Wayneland Drive complex were removed in 1974. That’s when Chateau Royal was changed from luxury apartments to condominiums.

The residential units were removed and a single, larger commercial meter was installed to register water usage for the entire complex.

“I began reviewing all of our accounts and bills, and found this and said, ‘this doesn’t appear to be appropriate,’” she said. “So, I began working on it.”

Comley said she initially reached out to Mayor Tony Yarber and his administration and later broached the topic with staffers under the current administration.

“We decided to stop paying it and make it a disputed item on our bill,” she said. “For about 18 months, we have deducted it (from what we pay).”

She estimates that the condo has paid, on average, an extra $7,200 a year in water fees, or an extra $89 per unit per year.

Over a 46-year period, that amount comes to about $4,100 per residential unit.

Today, city officials again said they would help address the issue.

Public Works Director Charles Williams said Chateau Royal would have to formally petition the council to have the charge removed from the condo’s monthly bill.

To address any potential overpayment, he said Chateau would have to file an appeal through the Water Sewer Billing Administration.

As for replacing the condo’s water infrastructure, he said that too would have to be worked out between the association, the city’s legal department, and the city council.

Comley said the association had appealed the charges and thought Tuesday’s meeting was the formal appeal to the council.

Said Comley, “I feel like the proverbial dog chasing its tail.”

Williams couldn’t be reached for follow-up comment.

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