Royal Oak official 'shocked' at treatment of couple with $3,600 water bill

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A Royal Oak couple hit with a $3,600 water bill say it is a big mistake - but the city is sticking to its guns.

But now at least one city official is siding with them.

"I was shocked," said Kim Gibbs 

Gibbs, the Royal Oak city commissioner said that was her reaction watching her city's residents the Powers family, on FOX 2 last week and again on Thursday.

"There has been no apology or even a conversation about the way we were treated," Patrick Powers said.

The couple was floored by the bill for three months of use. They then called FOX 2 after they say, they were mocked by some city officials.
"The way the Powers were treated is horrible," Gibbs said. “Not all of the city staff behaves this way."

Powers says he and his wife received the hefty water bill in April. City Manager Don Johnson, said at first saying they must have had a leak. The couple was said to have used 193,000 gallons of water in 90 days.
"I think if $3600 of water was running through your house, you might notice a drip," Gibbs said.

The Powers say a city engineer determined there wasn't a leak. Their water meter was removed and replaced by the city and their most recent bill, back to normal. 

Johnson told FOX 2 the Powers must have used the water. The meter tested at 99.6 percent accurate.
"Do I believe that to be accurate? I'm not sure," Gibbs said. "I have a hard time believing that to be accurate. It just doesn't make sense."

Reaching out to the powers, Gibbs also reached out to Johnson.
"I just started asking questions and that's when the roadblocks began," she said.

FOX 2 spoke with Johnson again Friday, but Johnson only reiterating this statement:

"Every customer is responsible for all water that flows through their meter," Johnson said. "The meter is accurate. There's no doubt about it."

Johnson added that a different test result is the only way he will change his position. But Gibbs asking for further investigation.

"The answer I'm getting is that's the meter reading and that's what they owe. That's what they owe. That's what they owe," Gibbs said.

Gibbs now says she hopes at the very least, a compromise can be made. She adds that she'll continue to ask questions strongly recommending the Powers speak at the city commission meeting on Monday.

"Now that it's been made public, we'll see where the cards fall," Gibbs said.

That meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the third floor of city hall.