Copperas Cove: Town hall scheduled on water billing transition plan

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COPPERAS COVE, Texas (KWTX) Copperas Cove officials have scheduled a town hall meeting to address residents’ concerns after FATHOM, the private company with which the City of Copperas Cove signed a 15-year contract in May 2016 to replace analog water meters with digital meters and to handle water billing announced it’s going out of business.

The private company with which the City of Copperas Cove signed a 15-year contract to install digital water meters and handle water billing is going out of business. (Photo by Kathleen Serie/file)

The meeting is at 6 p.m. on Nov. 22 at the Copperas Cove Civic Center at 1206 West Avenue B.

The meeting will be streamed live on the city’s Facebook page.

The city received notification from the company by email on Nov. 9.

The company said in the email it hasn’t been able “to secure an investment or additional debt to save our business.”

“Customers are encouraged to continue making regularly scheduled payments on utility accounts,” city spokesman Kevin Keller said in a press release.

“The revenues received through bill payments will continue to be received by the City of Copperas Cove,” he said.

Cove residents have complained of issues including faulty meters and overcharges since FATHOM took over the billing.

FAQ on Copperas Cove water service

1. Will I have an interruption in water service? There will be NO interruption in water service to our customers resulting from Fathom’s decision to close their business. The City receives its water from Belton Lake, through a contract with Bell County WCID #1, and we maintain the city’s water system. The water meters and Neptune meter readers, which were installed during the transition in 2016 and 2017, are owned by the City. FATHOM does NOT have the capability to turn water on/off to your residence, this must be done by City staff.

2. How do I make bill payments, where does the money go, and what happens to my account deposit? Until further notice, we recommend customers continue to make payments via the current options available. All money that is collected by FATHOM on behalf of the City by any method is applied to the appropriate customer account and remitted to the City. The option to make in person payments to City staff is also available by visiting Utility Administration at City Hall, 914 S. Main Street, Suite A. Account deposits are also in possession of the City, not FATHOM.

3. Who will handle my billing and customer service needs? Until further notice, FATHOM is still handling billing and customer care needs through the end of November 2019. City administration has a scheduled meeting with FATHOM representatives the week of November 18th to discuss options moving forward. All options will be evaluated, such as needed service agreements, software, and personnel. One such option is to bring full-service in-house utility billing needs of our community back to Copperas Cove.

4. Will FATHOM be required to pay any money back and/or be sued by the City? The City’s Attorney, DNRBZ, is currently reviewing the contract and will provide a legal opinion on their findings at next week’s City Council Regular Meeting on Tuesday, November 19th, at 6pm during an Executive Session. As this item is sensitive and may require future litigation, this portion of the meeting will not be open to the public. Any legal action the City might take would be initiated at the direction of City Council.

5. How can I found out more? City Manager Ryan Haverlah will make a brief statement referencing the situation during next week’s City Council Regular Meeting, on Tuesday, November 19th beginning at 6pm in the Council Chambers, 508 S. 2nd Street. A Town Hall Meeting is also being coordinated for late next week and details will be released very soon. The meeting will be open to the public to attend and allow opportunities for questions to be asked and answered.

(Source: City of Copperas Cove)