Kokua Line

Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, March 5, 1999

Folks in Mililani got
soaked by water bills

When I got my last water bill, it was very, very high. I read the actual meter and discovered I had been overcharged by about 9,500 gallons -- about $27 more. Apparently, the water board did the billing by computer estimate. When I talked to my neighbors in Mililani, I found out all the bills were done this way and all were incredibly overbilled. That ends up to be a heck of a lot of overcharged money. I just want to warn people to check their water bills with their meters.

The Board of Water Supply acknowledged and apologized for the overbillings, which it said affected some Mililani customers for the November-to-December billing period.

BWS meter readers normally check every one of more than 150,000 meters on Oahu to obtain actual readings for billings, said Clifford Jamile, BWS's manager and chief engineer.

But during the period in question, there was a shortage of staff because of illnesses, he said, which "made it necessary to issue estimated bills ... made by a computer system which takes the average consumption at the service location."

The BWS is now reviewing the estimation process to ensure that future estimates, if necessary, reflect actual consumption "as closely as possible," he said.

There are about three dozen meter readers who go out daily to read meters.

If you believe you have been overcharged, call 532-6500.



To the Children's Discovery Center for being so family unfriendly. After I paid, I was told that I could not bring in my stroller as it was a safety hazard. I am a small woman and my infant is not yet mobile and quite large. A woman with a toddler and infant twins also was told the same thing. While inside, our boys were constantly told not to run. This is what children do when they are excited. The executive director also told my son not to stand on a chair in the judicial exhibit because she did not want him to fall. Then why is the chair there? We felt so stressed by the end -- the staff made us feel like our children were so unruly when they were just acting like 4-year-old boys. It really is a wonderful place for kids. However, we will not return since my infant and I felt so unwelcome. -- R.T.F.

We asked Loretta Yajima, president/CEO of the Children's Discovery Center, to respond. She said the no-stroller policy was requested by visitors because the center often gets crowded; many parents end up pushing empty strollers, then leaving them in major pathways; and excited children don't watch where they are going and can easily trip over a stroller.

(She said staff is careful to remind children on especially busy days about not running "because of the safety factor," she said. That's also the case regarding the "witness" chair in the Courthouse. All exhibits are built with safety in mind, she said, but a chair can be a danger to an unsupervised child.

"Our commitment is to provide children with an environment that allows them to engage in unstructured, creative play. This does not mean unsupervised," Yajima said.

(The idea is for parents and children to discover things together, she said. Many people don't understand this and expect their children to be entertained by staff and volunteers, she said.

Yajima is one of the many volunteers working at the center. The private, nonprofit organization has "no executive director and very few paid staff," she said. "We built this center because the children of Hawaii needed it, and they deserve it."



To a young man named Dan, who fixed a flat tire for me on Monday, Feb. 1, in Mililani, near the recreation center. -- Grace

Got a question or complaint? Call 525-8686, fax 523-8509, or write P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802. As many as possible will be answered.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to kokualine@starbulletin.com

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