(BLOOMFIELD) - The Greene County Commissioners have discovered a billing error on their account with AT&T that is estimated to have cost the county close to $250,000.
According to Commissioner Ed Michael, the phone company in essence has been charging the county for services and usage of equipment that is no longer operating.
Michael told Rick Curl of the Daily World when the company took microwave relay towers out of service, they continued to charge Greene County for their use.
Now, the county is seeking answers from the telecommunications giant and getting little response.
"I'd like to think they just made a mistake," Michael said. "I'd like to think they didn't do it on purpose and just made a mistake and kept invoicing us."
Michael doesn't hold AT&T solely responsible citing the need for oversight by someone in the county government.
"Down through the years elected officials change," he said. "The sheriff changes, the auditor changes, the commissioners changes and nobody knew what the invoice was.
"It was something that occurs every month and somebody should have been looking at it a little closer."
Simply put, the company abandoned the microwave towers 10 years ago. But the company continued to charge Greene County for their use.
"They stopped using it in 2004 and we've been paying for it ever since then," Michael said. "It's 10 years worth of payments and currently the payments are $3,300 a month."
The county has no way of knowing how much the payment was prior to 2008 since AT&T has refused to provide those numbers to the commissioners.
"We don't know what the payment was before 2008 because they won't cooperate and we can't find the records," Michael added. "Without Discovery or something, we're not going to find out. We're estimating it could be close to a quarter of a million dollars that should not have been billed.
"We're hoping that AT&T will see that it's the thing to do and give back the money instead of saying we're not going to do that."
The commissioners are currently seeking options to rectify the situation.
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