Local News

Princeville residents dry as water bills go sky high

Posted July 12, 2012
Updated July 13, 2012

The town has shut off water to nearly a quarter of dwellings after customers racked up big bills.

— Washing the dishes should be a simple chore, but for Carla McDowell, it's become a bit of a nightmare.

“No, there’s nothing,” she said, turning on the tap in her Princeville home. “This is really tearing me up.”

McDowell was washing her dishes Thursday when the water suddenly stopped flowing. The town had shut off her water, claiming she owed $700.

“There’s no way I can come up with $700 by tomorrow,” McDowell said.

And she's not alone.

Princeville residents in dispute with town over water

Town leaders have shut off water to about 200 customers who are behind on their bills. That’s nearly a quarter of the town’s 845 dwellings, according to census data.

Princeville Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates said the town has tried to work for months with customers who owe back payments, but it’s complicated.

Princeville raised rates and updated meters in recent years, which increased the bills. When residents began questioning their large bills and saying they could not pay, the former town manager told them they only had to pay their current month’s bill – not what they owed in back payments – until the matter was resolved.

Current town leaders said they cannot abide by the former manager’s promise, especially when there’s no official record of it.

“Bring the proof,” Everette-Oates said. “You know, the manager is supposed to put everything in writing.”

Resident Mike Graham had his water shut off after his bill reached more than $1,100.

“How they calculated it, I don’t know,” he said.

He saved water in his bathtub before it was cut off.

“This is what we have to do right now,” he said. “We have to fill it up.”

Everette-Oates said a good-faith payment of half the bill is needed for water service to be restored. For now, customers are left using bottled water until they can figure out what to do.

“I’m going to try to come up with something to pay it because I got to have water,” McDowell said. “I can’t live without water.”


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  • superman Jul 13, 2012

    Anything will cost you more when you have to purchase it and then turn around and sell it. They get their water from Tarboro.

  • superman Jul 13, 2012

    Wzter is not cheap no matter where you are. I am in the country and I have a well. Couple months ago my well pump died and I had to get a new pump which when installed was $4000.00. We have a lot of iron in the water and have to get a water softener to remove the iron that was another $3,000.00. Over serveral years the iron in the water has caused my water heater to be full of iron which meant the hot water was a nice shade of brown. A new water heater was about $1000.00. Everyone required to be paid when they finished. Get over it folks aint nothing free except from Mr. Obama.

  • Sherlock Jul 13, 2012

    these people need to pay their bills just like I do. Come th enext election we can vote these individuals out of their soft jobs.

  • sha812 Jul 13, 2012

    a monthly water bill for princeville residents is normally 68.51 which includes a garbage pickup rate of $14.51. inside water $18.00 and inside sewer $36.00...after the new meters were installed the water and sewer rates doubled now the average bill runs around 137.00 or more.. The previous Town Manager Victor Marrow held a meeting back in 2010 with residents that lived in Princeville Housing Authority He told the residents to hold off on paying the increased amount and to pay only $68.51 until the meter situation was resolved.. Well it was never resolved and he didn't keep his word. He wanted the residents to make payment arrangements but even with the payment arrangements the bill continued to increase month after month.. some water bills now are as high as $2000.00

  • farm Jul 13, 2012

    Wow..... Soul City?

  • 426X3 Jul 13, 2012

    Got to pay.

  • iamsiam1096 Jul 13, 2012

    Nighthawk I am surprised wral didn't look at this from July 11, 2012 - http://dailysoutherner.com/x1447682228/State-starts-countdown-on-possible-Princeville-takeover

    The books have not been right for a long time, and water and sewer has been mismanaged - not to mention the towns bank account has not been reconciled since August 2011 almost a year. Cycnykid posted this link earlier and I think it speaks volumes for what is going on along with the articles you sighted Nighthawk. Wral did not give much of a background on this story. There is alot going on in Princeville and it is not looking good for the town or its residents at this point.

  • Working4aLiving Jul 13, 2012

    If you follow the links nighthawkcp posted you'll learn a whole lot about this story, I don't think I would have put this on the news WRAL. These people won't even pay their taxes!

  • muggs Jul 13, 2012

    Harnett County turn off period for non payment is 10 days,no if ands or buts about it,a policy enforced and obeyed by those who are on that system,average bill usually approx $35 to $45 family of four.

  • Wake1 Jul 13, 2012

    Obama will pay their bills!