A billing error which cost the Municipality of Summerland nearly $100,000 has put that council and staff and the affected electrical users in an uncomfortable situation.
The error dates to 2012 and the first three months of 2013. At that time, close to 700 farm and business account holders were given a credit for which they did not qualify.
The municipality will now work to recover this amount.
The error has put the municipality into a difficult predicament.
Had municipal council chosen to write off the amount, some would criticize the decision as wasteful.
If the money could be written off, questions would be raised about whether other municipal fees and charges were fair.
Municipal council’s decision to collect the money now, three years after the fact, is equally difficult.
It will result in an extremely lengthy delay for those who will be told to repay, and it will raise questions of why the error was not noticed and corrected much earlier.
In addition, some of those who received the credit in error may have moved away or closed their businesses.
Questions will also be raised as to why the error was not discovered until years after the fact.
Had the error been discovered within months instead of years, it would be a much easier decision to send bills to the affected customers in an effort to correct the mistake.
As it stands, three years is a long time when it comes to rectifying billing errors.
The attempt to correct this error will be unpleasant for all who are affected. This is a process none would ever want to see repeated.
Measures will be needed to ensure that if another billing error is made, it can be corrected as quickly as possible, to avoid any future delays.