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Senior double-billed by city

First a local senior got a utility bill from city hall. That was normal and unremarkable. Then, another one came for exactly the same amount. "I was so confused.
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First a local senior got a utility bill from city hall. That was normal and unremarkable. Then, another one came for exactly the same amount.

"I was so confused. I thought I had done something wrong, or city hall was doing something new and I owed more money," said the local senior.

A call to city hall resulted in instructions the senior felt were wholly inadequate.

"Why didn't they make a big deal out this, telling people about it?" the senior said. "People should have been made aware, really aware, and what I got told was 'oh, it was on our website.' Can you imagine? Do they think people spend their time checking the city's website to see what might be there? A lot of seniors don't even have a computer."

City of Prince George spokesperson Michael Kellett said the two bills were not double-billing. Only one of those bills needed to be paid, the other destroyed.

"It is important to note that the computer system, which tracks how much is owed, did not bill residents two times," he explained. "The error occurred in the printing process. If somehow a resident did pay twice due to this issue, the city would reimburse them for the extra payment as their account would reflect an over-payment."

It is one thing to hear the money only needs to be paid once, said the elder, but the amount on this bill was almost $600 and "a lot of seniors may not realize what's going on, they will pay twice and even if it gets applied as a credit or gets refunded somehow, that money is out of pocket for awhile, and a lot of seniors can't afford to be out that amount for any length of time."

Kellett said the root of the printing error was not yet known but the city was apologetic for any inconvenience this might have caused, and staff was working to ensure it doesn't happen again.

"Some bills were accidentally printed twice - we don't yet know exactly how many, but we do know it was not the majority. As it says on the website, residents only need to pay one of the notices as long as the account number on both bills is the same."