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Apr 27, 2010

Local Iryah inefficiency or scam?

It looks like our efficient Iryah has figured out an efficient way of scamming the residents out of their money. I say "scamming" because that is what it looks like. I was willing to call it a glitch and a mistake, but people affected told me that that is not the case and this was changed "lechatchila".

It seems the City of Bet Shemesh decided, I have no idea why, to wipe their records clean. Of course they didn't wipe the records of who owes how much money to them clean. Rather, to wipe clean the details of how many people live in each household.

This is a detail that affects the price each household will pay for their water.

In the middle of the winter last year, the government decided to impose a water tax on every household due to the severe water shortage. The price to be paid was determined to be a sliding scale, depending on how many people live in each house. The more people, obviously, the greater the allotment of water at the cheaper rates.

To get the higher allotments, all you had to do was update your details at the Iryah, show them your teudat zehut that says how many members of your family... and presto, you have more water at cheaper prices.

Granted, at the time it was a big hassle. You could fax a form in, but more often than not they didn't update the records in a timely fashion and residents still had to pay higher prices on at least one bill. That is if they even updated the records at all based on the form. The only way to be 100% sure the records were updated was to actually go down to the office physically, take care of it and ask them for confirmation.

Ok, no big deal. It was a new system, there were sure to be glitches and inefficiencies. Not such a big deal.

Now, 6 months later, people are getting their new bills about now, and many people are opening their bills to see they are paying the higher rates on their water usage. Why? Upon further inspection they are noticing that the bill at the top states how many people live in the household and their number was reset back to the default of 2. That means a family of 5 kids is now paying the regular rates for 2 people, and the rest of the water usage for the other 5 kids is being paid at higher rates ( no longer in the form of a tax, as the drought tax was canceled, but the water rates themselves are also on a sliding scale per members of the household).

BH, I did not have this problem on this bill (who knows what will happen on the next bill..) and mine still has the correct number of family members on it.

A lot of people though are getting the bills with the number reset to 2.

The following is an email a friend sent to me about it:

A quick warning for anyone that changed the amount of persons living in your house for the purposes of the water calculation on your iriya bills...
The iriya apparently sent out a notice with the last bill that you needed to update the amount of people living in your house...seeing as i had done that only a few months earlier, i just assumed that they were talking about people that had not updated them (I admit that i do not recall reading the notice, i assumed it was not relevant). Evidently they wiped the slate clean on this billing cycle (perfectly logical that my kids all left home at that span...my one-year old is especially enjoying life out in the real world...) and so this month we were charged with water as a 2 person household again....
Make sure you check your bill and update the iriya as necessary (you need the "sefach" of your TZ as evidence of how many people live at home..)
this seems like a pretty backhanded way for the iriya to make some extra cash and i am not impressed....

I have no idea why they would wipe their records clean and make everyone come register again. I would really prefer to say the whole thing was a glitch, as glitches and mistakes do happen in any and every system. Unfortunately it just looks like another stupidity coming out of our local bureaucracy, and possibly might be a real scam to get more money out of unsuspecting residents who don't pay such close attention to the fine print.


  1. I can call the post office give them my TZ and they know exactly how many gas masks to ship out.

    I don't know what is going on behind the scenes but is embarrassing that the Iriyah is less efficient then the post office.

  2. can you say Municipality?

    Go ahead. Sound it out. You can do it!

    Yes, you can!

  3. The same thing happened in Modi'in, where water has been sub-contrcated out to a private firm that always seem to be making "mistakes" in their favour.

  4. In Petach Tikva we got a notice that we needed to send in the information again. We got a letter saying we had the minimum number of residents. Sent it a second time and everything is okay. Never a problem with the bill.

  5. Its obvious what happened.

    Now that they police are cracking down on bribery and fraud the iryah chevra need a new source of income

  6. I called the Iriyah today and said, Mah Pitom? She even told me she see I faxed everything in, so she's going to look into and call me back tomorrow. I won't hold my breath. At least it's before my payment date, so I have some time to adjust this before my payment is due.

    a couple of years ago, they conveniently erased the fact that I have a garden, which also affects your water allowance.

    This is why it's the only bill I will never put on Horaat Keva.

  7. They also have a habit of not actually reading your meter and over-estimating usage by a fairly large amount. Happened on four straight bills at one point. Each time I took it to the guy who sits in the matnas showing him that my current meter reading is lower than their "reading" almost a month prior. I got the bill reduced but it was a rather large pain. Last two bills seem accurate.

  8. They did this in Ranaana as well. So annoying!

    Anon- Are you a new oleh or a non-Israeli? Everyone calls it the iriya, even in English. Why waste all those syllables and keystrokes on that insanely long English word?


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