California hospital surprised by sudden utility payments: 5 things to know

San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning, Calif., is trying to sort out details behind water use tied to meters on vacant land after surprisingly receiving utility bills totaling about $20,000, according to a Record Gazette report.

Five things to know:

1. The hospital received the bills from meters on vacant property of the San Gorgonio Memorial Healthcare District. The bills were unexpected, as the hospital had never previously been billed for those meters, according to the report.

2. Hospital officials are now trying to determine the direction of the water and who is using it.

3. Amid campus improvements, the hospital installed a six-inch emergency water connection to the city's distribution line on Ramsey Street, where the vacant property is located, Banning City Manager Doug Schulze recently told hospital board members, according to the report.

When that happened more than a decade ago, "the hospital created a looped system, which can pull water service from different distribution lines if there is a water outage on one of the other connections," said Mr. Schulze.

4. Mr. Schulze also told hospital board members the city believes a hospital contractor may have had city approval to install the meters, and the city's utility billing department only recently became aware of them. He said the hospital was billed retroactively because the city can back-bill for water use for up to three years.

5. The city and hospital are working to resolve the issue.

Access the full report here.


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