Man says KC's water department billed him for home that burned d - KCTV5

Man says KC's water department billed him for home that burned down in 2012

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It's been about four months since Kansas City agreed to pay $12 million to deal with water department problems, but it doesn't appear that the money has yet to make a difference with billing issues and customer service.

"I lived here. They called me from work and said that ‘your house is on fire,'" Mark Murphy said.

Aug. 11, 2012 Murphy got a phone call that changed his life.

"Lost everything. Everything burned up inside," he said.

A fire gutted his home on East 27th Street. He said the pain of that moment began to sting even more when one of many Kansas City, MO, water bills came in the mail.

"They are crazy. I don't understand," he said.

The water department has been billing him for usage and service fees, reaching a total of more than $1,200.

"I just took a whim. Somebody said, ‘call channel 5.' So I called and you responded and I'm really glad you did because it moved things along," Murphy said.

For 15 months the KCTV5 Investigations team has been helping residents fight water bills sent to empty lots, homes without pipes, even the dead.

In late summer, the Kansas City City Council passed a no-bid $12 million contract that was supposed to improve the water department's customer service. The water department showed KCTV5 a document showing the contractor has started 13 of 21 steps for improvement. Two of the areas currently being worked on are improving customer billing and customer contact, at a cost of more than $1 million.

For Murphy, he says service still needs to come a long way. KCTV5 sent an e-mail to the Water Services Department about Murphy's bill and staff quickly responded and provided some relief.

"They cut it down, a little under half. Instead of going through a whole another thing, I just paid it and move on," he said about what happened after KCTV5 contacted the department.

According to the contractor's timeline, the customer service improvements will be finished by this summer.

If a person is not getting any help with their bill or any issue, they can always call the KCTV5 Investigative tip line: (816) or (913) 576-7555 or e-mail

The bulk of the $12 million tax money for the water department will be spent over the next year and a half on technology upgrades.

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