Kalamazoo County couple allegedly receives water bill with vulgarity

AUGUSTA, Mich. — A Kalamazoo County couple is calling for change Friday night after allegedly getting a water bill with a vulgar word on it.

They say it all started after trying to pay their bill multiple times in person, but after the village clerk wasn't there any of those times, they left a note voicing their frustration. That's when they got the surprising bill.

Annette Tolis and her longtime boyfriend of 28 years, Kevin Barthel, have lived in Augusta for almost 20 years, but say things have become tense recently. The couple says they want changes to be made, but the chief of police says he needs to investigate the matter more before making any decisions.

Tolis says when she went to get her mail last Saturday. After looking a little closer at her water bill, she and her boyfriend Kevin were shocked.

"It's addressed to Annette Tolis and the a*****e that lives here too," said Kevin Barthel. "I'm 99.9 percent sure that I'm the a*****e she's referring to."

The couple says this all started a few weeks ago. They like to pay their water bill in person at the Augusta Village Hall so they can get a receipt, but claim every time they go the office is always closed because the clerk isn't there.

"It's just really hard to catch her there," said Annette Tolis.

Last week, Tolis left a letter for the clerk.

"It said, 'You come into work late, you leave early, you take long extended lunches and you make it impossible for us village residents to pay our bills on time. Work is an obligation and not a convenience and everybody's watching,'" said Tolis.

Annette and Kevin think the water bill with the message came because of that note.

"I don't understand why anyone would put anything like this on a government letterhead," said Barthel. "It's crazy. It's just amazingly crazy that someone would even do this."

"I don't jump to conclusions, I investigate things thoroughly," said Chief of Police and village manager Jeff Heppler.

Heppler says he's looking into the incident, but needs to see if the letter is legitimate before making any decisions. He says he looked up the bill on the village hall's computer system and what he saw was different than the picture of the letter the couple received.

"I did pull up the bill and it does not match the photograph that I was sent," said Heppler. "What I got was third hand so I really need to sit down with the residents and find out what happened because I need to make sure. I don't know what happened or why yet."

Kevin and Annette hope it happens sooner rather than later and are hoping to see positive change at the village hall. They recommend adding extra employees to work during the day or cutting down on the hours they're open so there's always someone there.

"This needs changes and positive changes other than 'We'll look into it,'" said Barthel. "This needs more than an apology, this needs action. I want it so it'll never happen again."

Chief Heppler says they're short staffed at the village hall because of a limited budget and can only afford to staff one person from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There is a drop box that's outside of the village hall where people can leave their checks or they can also call in a credit card number over the phone.

Chief Heppler tells FOX 17 he's going to try and meet with the couple before next week to speak about the incident.

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