JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – An increase in their water bill has left some Jonesborough residents concerned. Meanwhile, Jonesborough town officials said residents may see a higher bill this month but going forward that should not be the case.

Chuck Vest, Mayor of Jonesborough, said the Town sent a letter to water customers earlier in the year which said that they would begin estimating water bills instead of physically checking water meters.

“It’s something you only do in emergency situations but with the staffing shortages and the COVID-related issues in the billing department, it brought this on,” Vest said. “Also, the explosion in new homes and people moving to the area it’s created a bigger demand for people to physically go out and read meters.”

Jonesborough Town Recorder Pat Ryder said the plan was to estimate until July but since staffing issues have been fixed they are back to being physically read as of the first week of May.

“The Town of Jonesborough values our water customers and endeavors to provide the best service possible.  Due to COVID related circumstances leading to labor shortages, water usage volumes were being estimated at the beginning of this year.    Like many other municipalities and utilities, the Town has provisions in the Ordinances of the Town to allow estimation and later reconciliation of water bills to prevent disruption in service. As posted on our website, the original plan was to discontinue estimating by the end of July, 2022. But we are happy to report that Jonesborough’s meter department is now fully staffed and that all meters are back to being physically read as of the first week of May. The Town of Jonesborough understands this short-term strategy has caused some confusion and takes customer feedback to heart. We continue to work with our neighbors to reconcile any issues and am happy to report that we are back to normal operations going forward.”

Jonesborough Town Recorder Pat Ryder

Vest said some of the estimates might have been either too low or high, and if you have a higher bill this month, you’re paying for water that was underestimated the past three or four months.

“Really this one month is where the anomaly is,” Vest said. “Going forward it should be what your actual usage is.”

Vest said the town is planning to invest millions of dollars to improve the water system over the next three to five years, and while they’re still in the planning stage, they plan to update to new automated readers.