KCTV5 Investigates: Deceased customer sent KCMO water bills - KCTV5

KCTV5 Investigates: Deceased customer sent KCMO water bills

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Kansas City water department recently spent $20,000 for a new look and logo. While the department may look different from the outside, residents, like Rose Malone, see no change when it comes to the agency's billing mistakes.

"What I didn't understand was the turnoff notice; if you don't pay it they were going to turn it off," Malone said. "I was like it's already off."

In the middle of 2012, Malone started receiving bills and turnoff notices for a house on Kansas City's southeast side.

It's where she and her husband, Grant Malone, moved in the early 1970s and where they raised a family.

Grant Malone stayed in the home after the couple divorced. Rose Malone says you could always find him in a favorite spot.

"He sat on the porch overlooking that park," she said. "He loved that place"

The house sits vacant now. Thieves have stolen anything of value, including the water pipes.  However, that theft is not the main reason for Rose's disbelief at the continuing water bills from KCMO.

"Obviously, you can't bill a dead man," she said.

Grant Malone passed away in 2008. As the personal representative of her ex-husband's estate, that is something Rose Malone said she has explained more than once to Kansas City Water Services.

"Nobody was listening," she said. "It was like pouring water on a duck's back. It just rolled right off. And the bills kept coming. The bills just kept coming."

The bills continued even after providing the agency with a death certificate.

Within 24 hours of KCTV5 contacting the water department, Rose Malone finally got the call she'd been waiting to receive.

"He wanted to tell me he had resolved the problem and the bill was now zero," Rose Malone said. "It was finally done. I was shocked and happy."

The bills started coming to her during the time the city decided to dust off and try to collect on old, inactive accounts.

KCTV5 asked if that's what happened with the account of Grant Malone but was told the agency has a policy against discussing customer service accounts, apparently even after they're deceased.

Rose Malone's experience is just the latest billing problem uncovered in a year-long series of stories told by KCTV5.

In July 2012, investigative reporter Eric Chaloux introduced viewers to Cecelia Cole, who was being sued for unpaid water bills while the city ignored the overdue accounts of big name customers like the Jackson County Sports Complex.

KCTV5 then aired a story last October about the bills being sent to the Rourick family for a small back yard storage shed that was unable to receive water.

In February, a story focused on the bills retiree Betty Pugh had been getting for a vacant lot.

And last May, KCTV5 revealed how Sara Passan, a Prairie Village, KS resident was being told to pay for water to a KCMO lot that no longer existed.

Those stories prompted Missouri auditor Tom Schweich to call for a closer look at the city utility.

"You've exposed something that's pretty serious here, and it does need a fresh set of eyes. There's no doubt about it," Schweich told Chaloux.

It is likely the billing plight of Rose Malone will only strengthen Schweich's desire to examine the books.

That cannot happen without special permission from the governor's office.

KCTV5 will let you know what Gov. Jay Nixon decides to do about Kansas City Water Services.

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