The owner of a Westside mobile home park has five days to explain to the city why some of its residents have received outrageously high water bills, otherwise, the city may turn the issue over to the State Attorney’s Office.
Officials with the City of Jacksonville, JEA, and a team of independent plumbers visited the Three Seasons Mobile Home Village off Collins Rd. on Monday to inspect Kelly ONeil’s water lines for leaks after she paid more than $2,200 for water for two months and received a new one for $1,700 in September.
According to the inspection report, officials found no leaks at ONeil’s mobile home.
News4JAX has also learned city inspectors have received five similar complaints from other tenants of the company’s mobile home parks.
On Friday, former Three Seasons property manager TeriAnne Werner told the I-TEAM the company that owns the park, Moore Enterprises out of Irving, Texas, would either pocket payment they received from high water bills or the tenant could be forced out of their home.
“If they need me to go into court for a case and testify, I’m more than willing to do that,” Werner told News4JAX.
Werner’s interview with the News4JAX I-TEAM helped put into motion a city inquiry into why tenants at Moore Enterprises’ mobile home parks were being charged thousands of dollars for water in just a few months.
Here are the results of the city’s report:
Over the past three months (July-September), it had been recorded that ONeil consumed 3,598.88 gallons of water. During the prior three months (April – June), it was recorded that ONeil consumed 17.9 gallons of water.When officials arrived at the tenant’s property, ONeil and her father Stan gave them a tour and indicated that around July 9, the toilet in the main bathroom was constantly running so she shut the water valve off to try to preserve water. ONeil said her father replaced all internal parts on Sept. 7 and turned the water valve back.Kelly ONeil also showed officials the location of the sink drain link that was repaired by Roto-Rooter on Sept. 9. Roto-Rooter’s worker, Gavin Standley had stated this leak was a drain leak that would only leak when the kitchen faucet was in use.There were no apparent water damage, sink holes or water markings that indicated leakage.Officials said Kelly ONeil’s water meter appeared to be functioning properly.
After inspecting and discussing this matter with JEA, Municipal Code Compliance, Creative Plumbing and Roto-Rooter, Consumer Affairs Manager Jimmie Carter found two possible causes for ONeil’s unusually high water bills.
If ONeil had a running toilet, EPA estimates that a running toilet uses 200 gallons of water per day. In 31 days, this would be 6,200 gallons per month. This number suggests that her water bill would have been much higher than the reported amount. Furthermore, if a running toilet was the issue, that could explain why there were no signs of water damage underneath the mobile home because all the water would leave through a drainpipe, causing the water bill to be elevated.It is “quite possible” that the water meter was read improperly, or the meter numbers used to calculate ONeil’s water consumption were incorrect.
“In my professional opinion, I contribute [sic] human error to be the possible cause of Ms. O’Neil’s exorbitant water bills,” Carter concluded. “We do not have any other plausible reason for Ms. ONeil’s experience.”
Werner, who worked at Three Seasons for two years, told the News4JAX I-TEAM the water usage at the park was often estimated by employees, and many times, the water meters themselves weren’t working.
“They just wanted to go ahead and charge these people this $1,700 to $2,200 water bills, which is completely wrong,” Werner said.
According to Werner, management at Moore Enterprises refused to fix this widespread problem at all three of their Jacksonville properties and instead pocketed thousands of dollars from at least 10 tenants during her employment with them in 2018 and 2019.
“They just decided on their own they were not going to do the right thing and apparently have continued to do this since I’ve been gone,” Werner said.
City Councilmembers Rahman Johnson and Matt Carlucci said if Moore Enterprises does not provide the city with an adequate response by noon on Oct. 13, this case will be forwarded to the State Attorney’s Office.
News4JAX reached out to Moore Enterprises and their attorneys for their reaction to this city report but has not yet heard back.
If you’ve received a high-water bill at Three Seasons, Americana or Orange Park North Mobile Home parks, inspectors still want to hear from you, you can file an official complaint by calling 904-255-7198.