City To Colbert Hills: Oops

By Jon A. Brake

A new bill for the water that Colbert Hills Golf Course has used over the past three years is in the mail.

The City has under billed the golf course $382,578.31.

When can we expect your check?

Manhattan City Manager Ron Fehr sent a letter to the City Commission on August 12th saying: "I want to make you aware of an issue that we recently discovered concerning Colbert Hills. Due to errors in reading the irrigation meter and problems with the meter itself, significant under billing on this account has occurred."

Mayor Ed Klimek had requested information from the city on water consumption by golf courses in Manhattan. A chart at the bottom of the page shows the usage and the cost the three golf courses have used and paid. In the case of Colbert Hills they were only billed about ten-percent of the actual amount. The chart shows the amount that should have been billed.

Fehr told the Commissioners, "Thus, the cost on your attached chart is the amount the course should have been charged, not what was actually charged." He did not tell the Commissioners that the amount owed by Colbert Hills was $382,578.31.

The Free Press was told Wednesday that the Commissioners would receive another letter Wednesday night giving the amount of the under billing.

Fehr also told the Commissioners in the August 12th letter, "I have asked Director of Finance Bernie Hayen to work with our auditor and utilities staff to develop measures to ensure that water utilized is fully accounted for in the billing system."

In 1998 the City of Manhattan constructed a new water tower to the northwest of Colbert Hills. The course uses about two towers of water per day for irrigation.

The Free Press was told that a new six-inch water line was put in to provide water to the course-pumping pond. A new six-inch meter was purchased and installed at that time. The new meter had six dials compared to five used by the City of Manhattan. At that time the meter readers were told to only read five of the six dials. This mistake caused the City to start under billing with the first bill in June of 1999.

Colbert Hills has paid the entire amount they have been billed each month.