A disconnect in Martinsville

More than 2,000 homes and businesses in Martinsville got water disconnection notices early in February after an Ohio company accidentally sent out a batch of notices intended as a test.

Many of the bills claimed water users owed in excess of $50,000. One bill said a shuttered restaurant was delinquent by $169,000. The bills, dated Feb. 1, 2008, listed a due date of Dec. 19, 2007.

Mary Malone, who manages the city’s
utility office, bore the brunt of the reaction from dozens of puzzled callers. She explained that the bills came from Smart Bill Ltd., a firm the city hired last year to send its utility notices. Martinsville outsourced the job so it would comply with postal regulations.

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