GRU blames “labor shortage” for why 5,000 customers received late bills

Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:27 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - 5,000 GRU customers did not get their November bills on time, and some still haven’t received theirs.

“This is going on my second month I haven’t gotten my bill,” said Brenda Guerrero.

She isn’t the only person in this situation. Emails to elected officials indicate other customers haven’t received a bill in months.

“In this case it’s because of the shortage we don’t have enough meter readers to actually read all of the routes every day,” said Kinn’zon Hutchinson, GRU Chief Customer Officer.

Hutchinson said GRU should have 20-22 workers who read meters in order to cover all the routes, but they’re averaging around 14.

Utility officials sent out a message to customers blaming staffing shortages for why they had to estimate bills, but they’ve been estimating some bills for several years.

“What it does is it takes a look at the same time last year and it takes an average based on those days and that’s how it comes out to what the actual estimation is,” said Hutchinson.

He said they do this to ensure customers don’t have long billing cycles. “If they didn’t use as much as the estimation says, we go and we correct the bill.”

One customer said this issue seems to be part of a larger problem within GRU.

“The billing is very unpredictable, you’ll get super high rates one month and there will be a lack of explanation around that,” said Joseph Berkeley.

GRU officials said they’re in the process of replacing all meters with digital meters that workers can read remotely, but that will take a few years.

Right now, Hutchinson said they’re bringing on more resources to help make up for the lack of meter readers.

Customers who did not receive a bill will not be charged a late fee.

GRU is suggesting that customers pay an amount similar to their typical monthly bill to offset the total cost of their November and December bills.

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