Nearly $1M refund on hold while city consults attorney

Published: Monday, December 23, 2013 at 08:06 PM.

CRESTVIEW — A nearly $1 million refund for overpayment of street lighting bills since March 2006 is on hold until city attorney Jerry Miller is consulted to see if Gulf Power owes more money.

An August report in the News Bulletin led to the electric utility working with the city to determine the amount Crestview had been overbilled.

City Public Works Director Wayne Steele reported at the time a discrepancy had been found between the number of street lights for which Gulf Power charged the city and the number of lights a Public Works survey identified.

Steele said the electric utility immediately worked with the city to reconcile the discrepancy. He said Gulf Power determined it overbilled Crestview $961,252.

"In mid-October, a keying error was discovered to have occurred in March 2006," a Dec. 11 letter from Gulf Power Lighting Services supervisor Kenneth Folsom to City Clerk Betsy Roy stated.

Folsom stated in his letter that instead of adding two new "cobra head" fixtures to Crestview's inventory, the total number of fixtures, 1,336, was accidentally entered, doubling the number of street lights for which the city was billed.

At a special meeting of the City Council on Dec. 16, Steele proposed spending slightly less than $150,000 of the refund to relieve city employees of 32 furlough hours per person this fiscal year.

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