Houston family shocked to receive $15K water bill

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on November 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 23 at 12:00 AM

HOUSTON -- A Houston family is without water and without answers about just how they’ll pay a massive bill sent to them by the City of Houston.

The initial bill received in June totals more than $15,000.

Johnell Engleton says there is no logical way for him to pay that. The city has since adjusted the bill that now sits at $9,500.

Engleton believes that is still way too much. The current bill is almost half of what Engleton brings home in a year.

“If they would finance it, it would be a 2-year finance arrangement,” explained Engleton.

The working father drives a truck for a living. He says he was out of town when a big water main break happened on his side of the meter.

“It’s outrageous,” said Johnell Engleton.

Engleton says there was standing water when he returned home. He claims he didn’t realize how big of a problem it was until he saw the bill.

Engleton and his girlfriend have a 17-month-old girl and another child on the way. Both are worried about how they care going to take care of the bill.

“I have a little girl, a family. I’m a working man. I’m willing to make some type of resolution, but I need to get met halfway,” said Engleton.

Engleton rents the home on Defender Street, near 610 and Clinton Drive. Houston Public Works tells KHOU the bill is Engleton’s responsibility since his name is on the bill.

His landlord says he is willing to adjust the rent to help Engleton catch up on the water bill. He doesn’t feel it’s his responsibility to pay the bill himself.

Spokesman Alvin Wright said the issue involving the bill is confidential so he couldn’t discuss specifics. However, Wright pointed out that Engleton had plenty of time to resolve the bill before his service got disconnected.

Wright released the following written statement.

"Some causes of high bills include, but are not limited to, private leaks at the property or lack of payments received on the account. In the event of a high bill, it is imperative that the customer stay in communication with Utility Customer Service staff, in order to be made aware of all options available to prevent the addition of late fees being applied to the account or service interruptions from occurring."

"Refusal to pay any portion of the bill, even a small amount, could result in disruption of service."

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