Yelm City Hall

Yelm City Hall

Nearly $70,000 of the city’s $74,000 in unpaid wastewater treatment charges have been paid back to the city by high-consumption customers nearly two months after city staff realized that a new software system that was supposed to be charging customers failed to do so. 

In an email to the Nisqually Valley News, city Communications Specialist Andrew Kollar wrote that of the 82 customers who owed an outstanding balance because of the oversight, six customers still have an unpaid balance amounting to $4,023.12, according to numbers from the finance department. 

Customers owed an average of about $900 in wastewater charges, City Administrator Michael Grayum said previously. A wastewater treatment charge of $7.83 per cubic foot of waste is usually charged to high-consumption customers that surpass the use of more than 875 cubic feet per month. This charge is unique to high-consumption city customers. Mostly businesses were impacted by the system failure. 

Kollar confirmed that the city has since fixed the system that collects the treatment charges and wrote that the city will “continue to streamline and improve internal controls and the review process across all departments.” 

The missed charges have not impacted city operations, Kollar wrote. 

“One of the challenges we encountered when moving to a new software system and new building all at the same time was that it provided an opportunity for Murphy’s Law to apply,” said Yelm Mayor JW Foster. “We were able to learn quite a bit about the operation from this experience. We regret the inconvenience this caused for our customers.” 

Foster said the city will continue to learn from the mistake.

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