Mountain Parks Electric drops $106,000 ‘bomb’ on Fraser Valley Rec District |

Mountain Parks Electric drops $106,000 ‘bomb’ on Fraser Valley Rec District

Tonya Bina
Fraser, CO Colorado

A Mountain Parks Electric Inc. billing mistake is setting back the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District by about $106,000.

Joe Pandy, general manager of Mountain Parks, attended the Aug. 23 Recreation District board meeting to explain to board members why the district’s electricity bill is actually double what it has been billed since the Grand Park Community Recreation Center opened in January of 2010.

For each of the last 18 months, the electric co-op had under-billed the recreation district by more than $5,000.

News of this was a “bomb” dropped on the district, said Scott Ledin, director of Parks and Recreation for the district.

Out of a $1.1 million expense budget, the district planned $172,000 for natural gas and electrical for 2011. Now the district may be forced to find funds to cover back bills as well as an increase in future bills.

“It makes things challenging for us as we attempt to get on track,” Ledin said.

According to Pandy, the billing problems affected four other large power accounts in the area out of “several hundred” accounts. The recreation district was the only publicly funded organization to be a victim of the billing error.

Only one business out of the five (full disclosure: the Sky-Hi News) received a refund, which was due to the co-op having double-billed the company over a period of nearly four years.

Pandy said the problem boiled down to “human error.”

It stemmed from a Mountain Parks technician who entered a multiplier on the meter itself rather than a multiplier on the billing end, causing an erroneous reading of the meter.

“He thought he was going to get better information out of the meter when testing meters,” Pandy said. “He did not know it would cause a billing problem.”

The technician is a “long-term employee” of Mountain Parks with “more than 20 years of service and a good employee,” Pandy said. The employee has retained his position with Mountain Parks.

Legally, the co-op can collect outstanding bills going back six months, unless there is data available to support a correction of billing for a longer period, Pandy said.

This problem did not affect homeowners, who make up many of the co-op’s 19,000 accounts, since electricity usage is metered differently at private homes.

Mountain Parks offered the recreation district the ability to review the books to verify the error and offered to pay for a third-party consultant to review the data. Mountain Parks is also willing to work out a payment plan with each of the affected members, Pandy said.

“We are not out to make it rough for them. We want to make it easy and fair for them. And we know these economic times are difficult,” he said.

As far as the recreation district’s assumed use of electricity since the center came into operation, Ledin said he thought electricity bills had been more than reasonable due to “smart design” and tight construction. And since no two recreation centers are exactly alike, he said, he was unable to search out another establishment for comparison.

Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603

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