To whom it may concern,

Let this letter be notice of our wish to appeal The City of Cambridge Tax and Water Department invoices (2) dated 2016/03/08 (attached copy 1)on our water account #58631 totaling $881.42 which is almost 10 X our regular bill . These invoices are an attempt to collect back billing for unbilled consumption dating back to March 30, 2012 due to the use of estimated billing of our account by the Tax and Water Department The estimations were not in any way caused by myself, my family, or any act of god but due solely to administrative errors by the Tax and Water Department and their inability to follow their own policies and procedures. After being offered no options for resolution by Mr. Wade Novak Manager of the billing department during our phone conversation on March 15,2016. I wish to dispute these charges and bring attention to this situation. We are a working family new to the city with a young daughter and the loss of these monies would be considered a hardship. I also have concerns that these invoices might have been generated in an attempt to avoid the laws of the Province and Municipality.

The facts as I interpret them:

• In March of 2012 my family purchased our first home located at 550 Vine Street Cambridge, ON. At that time I experience considerable difficulty opening a water account for our property. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to activate the account online with the Tax and Water Department, I had to make several more attempts to set up the account with different customer service representatives of the department. During these conversations I was told many times that this location had no service, yet I let them clearly hear the running water over the phone. Finally some someone apologized, informed me they had corrected the error and set up our account.

• It was noted on our pre purchase house inspection in March of 2012 that the water meter had been replaced recently and was equipped with an outside reader. This fact was disputed by Mr. Novak during our phone conversation as he insisted that the meter was installed on March 30,2012. He was quite concerned when I informed him customer service representative Alison confirmed to me during a previous phone conversation to the department that the meter was installed sometime in 2011. I will also note that the invoices in question clearly set the read on the meter as 48 as of March 30, 2012. I do believe a new meter would read 0 or close to it at the time of installation. But I am not an engineer.

• Water invoices began to arrive and all monies owed were diligently remitted to the department by us for the next 4 years. As we had never before seen a water bill from the City of Cambridge or from anyone else for that matter, we had no reason to question the validity of the invoice or have any reason to question any billing amounts or information provided on the invoice by the department. I have now been informed as of March 14, 2016 that all 23 invoices we received were estimated by the department due to some type of administrative error when the “new meter” was installed sometime before we took possession of the property in March of 2012. Mr. Novak either chose not to explain this error in detail or he had no real knowledge of the initial error during our phone conversation.

• The paperwork that we received on March 12,2016 included 2 invoices and a short letter explaining the issue(attached copy 1). I found the letter very confusing to say the least and not of much help clarifying the issue. It continued to refer to the problem as a “new meter” issue. I would not consider a piece of equipment that is already well beyond half of its confirmed useful life of 7 years NEW!. As for the invoicing. I am confused and concerned as to why 2 invoice were produced. I have been told this is due to a limit on the computer system where it will only back bill to no more than 999 days. I suggest that the reason for this limit is intentional as by the Limitation Act of 2002 in the Province of Ontario, corporations are limited to back billing their customers a total of 730 days. Therefore there would be no need for the system to bill over a1000 days. This information was easily obtain on the City of Cambridge’s own website in the BMA Report on Water/Wastewater billing and collection Policies and Practices(agenda item #5 appendix ”B”) January 26, 2015. (attached copy 2) Page 7 of the report under legislation reads:

Limitations Act

Estimates, over a long period of time, can lead to a need for back‐billing of customers once an actual read has been taken. The Ontario legislature passed Bill 213 better known as the Limitations Act, 2002 which came into effect in 2004 and limits “a claim to remedy an injury, loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act or omission” to two years. This does not restrict the recovery of fraud based costs.

• The two invoice I received seem to suggest that all monies owed for these errors are only from 2014 to the present not when the issue began in March of 2012. Also all monies remitted by us over the last 4 years were credited only towards the invoice with the oldest dating(2012). I have grave concerns. Is this another in a long list of “errors” by this department or is it an creative attempt at invoice manipulation in order to circumvent the Limitations Act and or the intentions of the Provincial Government in enacting the law? During our phone conversation. Mr. Novak insisted that his department was not back billing us, that they were not billing back 4 years and the Limitations act does not apply. l believe they are back billing us due to 23 estimations going back 4 years generated by their error dating before March 30, 2012 and the law does apply. But I am not a lawyer

• I also wonder if an intent to deceive can be proven here this might constitutes fraud. How many invoices like this have been issued to customers? $25,000.00 worth? more possibly. But I am not a police officer.

• Page 7 of BMA report also states that it is current policy of the city:

1. For an outside remote issue after 2 consecutive estimated bills, Public Works is provided with the address to investigate the meter.(No one has ever been to our property or contacted us in any way to inquire on this issue since we have owned the house. If this policy had been followed the issue could have been corrected by June/July 2012)

2. the City’s current practice for residential customers is to limit back‐billing when there is a discrepancy between the inside read and the outside remote to 40 m3 when the meter is replaced.(If this error was due to errors during the installation of a “new meter” why would this policy not apply to us as stated by Mr. Novak. He insist they have all the correct meter reads but never used them and we have never seen them. Why?)

• Page 8 of the BMA report also reads:

Section 15 of the City’s by‐law states that where the billing errors have resulted in under‐billing, the consumer shall be charged with the amount erroneously not billed for a period not exceeding:

Residential—2 years where not responsible for the error.

• Page 23 of the report recommends under estimated billing/ back billing recommendations:

7. That in situations where a back‐bill is required because of meter equipment malfunctions, the City back‐bill for a period of up to a maximum of one year for residential and two years for all other customers except where there is evidence of fraud or despite notification from the City of a problem causing under‐billing, the customer refuses access to the property to allow for maintenance of meter equipment. The City will provide a full refund in the case of overbilling.

• Mr. Novak would like to believe that because this error might not be related to an equipment malfunction but due to incompetence in his department, that he has no obligation to treat us fairly and without discrimination. The truth is Back Billing is Back Billing. The problem began in this department and should end in this department with them taking responsibility for their incompetence. The only job of this department is to bill its customers fairly and accurately. They have failed here horribly.

• I would also like to formally request that the due date for all monies requested by the invoices in question be held until this appeal has been finalized. These monies should not incur any penalties, collection notices, disconnection orders or transfers to the Tax roll while this issue is in appeal. Mr. Novak has informed me that such a request would be his option to grant. I find it odd that this action would be optional. I do not wish my family to incur any further hardships due to this matter. I will of course continue to remit monies for any new corrected water invoices as they are received during this process. I will require immediate notification if the request is denied.

I do acknowledge our responsibly in this matter and propose a settlement as follows:

1. As suggested in the BMA report, the department should back bill our account for one year from 2016/03/08 to 2015/03/08 at 2015 rates to correct for the estimated billing.

2. This invoice should include the original estimated reading, the new corrected reading, the outstanding difference of the two, all monies previously remitted during this time and finally the total monetary value of that corrected difference.

3. This total will be remitted by us over 6 equal payments over 1 year. (6 regular billing cycles)

4. A written apology from Mr. Novak.

5. An investigation in to these questionable billing practices.

6. That in future all back billing invoice not only be accompanied by a letter that adequately explains in detail the facts and reasoning for the correction. That any bills that are over $250 or are 2x higher than a regular bill also include detailed information about this appeals process.

During this process I have gleamed intimate knowledge of the monumental FUBAR this department has found itself over the past few years.(I suggest you visit the Facebook group “ Cambridge water billing issues” -735 members and counting) It seems that council and the city are working to correct some of these problems. With the commissioning of the BMA report and the passing of many of that reports recommendations, such as this appeals process and the new water leak policy. I question however at what point did we need legislation and an appeals processes for our public servants to treat us with morality and fairness? I do feel the entire problem lies within one single policy statement ingrained in the culture of this department and maybe the city:

“ user must pay”.

But at what cost?

Are we really just users?

What I am is just one citizen among many who is a customer and now part owner of this utility. I think you might have forgotten that.

Thank You for your time and consideration,

Kindest Regards,

Brian McKay and Family

resident of Cambridge..

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