KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — The City of Kingsport is still more than a month behind on water bills, but city officials have announced a plan to catch back up.

The city will do two billing cycles covering 45 days instead of three, which means current bills will be higher than normal.

“This will cause your current bill to be higher than normal,” a city spokesperson said in a release. “For example, if you’re expecting to pay $50 per month for 3 bills ($150), you may end up paying $75 per bill for 2 bills ($150).”

The city plans to resume monthly billing in August and believes all billing issues will be resolved by then.

“Please note – Your water meter is registering the correct water usage and you’re not being overbilled for your water,” the city said.

Water meter replacement (Photo: WJHL)

The issue stems from water meters that were installed back in 2009. Those meters allowed city employees to obtain meter readings simply by driving by instead of having to manually read the meters. However, the batteries in the meters started to fail in December 2020, and due to staffing and equipment issues, the city began estimating water usage for some customers.

To help speed up the billing process, the city started charging some customers the minimum amount one month and then physically reading the water meter the next month, which led to water bills being higher one month then lower the next.

According to the city, the amount billed over a two-month period is still accurate and no customers are being overbilled.

All meters are now being read by an employee every month, but the city is still more than a month behind on billing.

Kingsport began replacing the troubled meters in the spring of 2021, and so far, 16,000 have been replaced this year as part of the $3 million replacement project.