Tulsa mother endures 7 months of red tape with the city over leaky water meter

Stephanie Kemp has been battling the city of Tulsa for month over a leaky water meter. (Mummolo/KTUL)

A Tulsa resident's blood is boiling over her water bill after a seven-month ordeal with the city over her broken water meter.

"I work at St. Francis Children’s Hospital; I work in the kitchen," Stephanie Kemp said.

The bane of Kemp's existence is a water meter the city installed back in May that's been nothing but trouble from day one.

"I realized there was a little leak that was coming kind of on the side of the meter but going into the meter," she said.

Like anyone would, she called the city, and someone came out.

"And he kind of looked at it... and classified it as a leak at that point in time," she said, and like anyone would, she asked, "What's next?"

"He was like, 'Well, we don’t know whether it's your leak or it's our leak,' so I’m like, 'When are we going to be able to decide whose leak it is?' He said, 'They will get in touch with you and call you back,'" Kemp said.

The follow-up never came, but the bill did.

"Nobody shows up. Nobody comes. Nobody returns my phone calls. Well, the next month, I get a bill for $500," she said.

Mind you, Kemp's average bill is $100 a month.

Weeks continue to roll by.

"So, I call again. They come out; they look at it. They say, 'It's a leak,' and now, we’re going back and forth. I need to call the contractors. I need to call these people. I need to call the contractors. I’m like, 'How am I supposed to know who [to get to] come out here?'"she said.

As the finger pointing begins, she said, "I’ve been through four or five different supervisors."

June turns to July.

"'Well, it's the contractor's fault.' We don’t know if it’s their fault or our fault. 'Well, it’s their fault. And they’re still under contract, so we’re not going to touch it. We’re not going to touch it,'" Kemp said. "I hear, 'We’re not going to touch it,' over and over again."

All the while, the leak is getting worse.

"You could not walk in this area right here. It was coming up out of the meter and going down my street," she said.

At her wits end by August, she adopts a new strategy.

"I was like, 'Forget it. I’m not going to pay that bill just to make them come out and fix it,'" she said.

That got their attention.

When they finally fixed it, though, she was facing a bill upwards of $650.

While looking for an adjustment for all of that leaked water, she got refereed to someone else who says, "'Well, this is not my job,' and I’m like, 'OK, well, this is the number that I got, so I’m talking to you.'... 'Well, it's not my job, but I know how it is out there and how they are, so I’m going to send some emails through,'" she said.

Somehow, the city decides that Kemp should be credited $323.10 for a leak that lasted three months and a trail of red tape seven months long, but now, she's been told that to avoid a cut-off, she has to pay $1,000 by next Tuesday.

"I’ve been going through a lot. How do you sacrifice your kid’s Christmas for a water bill that you were the one that was persistent on you guys coming out here and fixing it? I don’t understand. So, I’m really in a hard place right now," she said.

The city says they've offered Kemp a six-month payment plan.

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