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AT&T Billing Error Means Springfield Must Repay $273,000

Updated: Wednesday, July 16 2014, 11:18 PM CDT

A wireless carrier made a mistake that's now costing the
city of Springfield hundreds of thousands of dollars. For years AT&T
charged customers a tax on data plans that weren't supposed to be taxed. That
telecommunications tax was collected for municipalities like Springfield. Now a
class action lawsuit settlement says customers should get their money back, and
it's those municipalities who must now repay AT&T’s over collection.

The city of Springfield collects a telecommunications tax on
cell phones and landlines. The tax is used primarily to fund the Lincoln Library,
a free resource to local residents.

"It's convenient; it's not far from where I stay at so
I come every day almost. This is where I spend my time and collect my thoughts
and get all my priorities in order," Library patron Kyle Maxy said.

Maxy says he spends hours at the library, getting ready to
start college in the fall and deciding what he wants to do with his future.

Two library branches have closed in recent years. The city's
Director of Budget and Management says tax money designated for the library is
on the decline. Now on top of that, five years of billing mistakes from AT&T
means the city has a hefty sum to repay.

"It was a letter saying a settlement was negotiated
with AT&T and oh by the way, you owe $273,000 in overpayments in taxes and
we're going to start collecting that," Dir. Of Budget and Management Bill
McCarty said.

The money from the tax is distributed by the Department of Revenue.
That means for the next nine months, Springfield will see about a thirty
thousand dollar drop in payments from the department of revenue.

Fortunately, the current city budget has some wiggle room. The
only impact this billing error will likely have is a smaller budget surplus at
the end of the year for the City of Springfield.

"We don't expect any adverse impact on library
manpower, library hours, or rather library services. We’re going to go ahead
and deal with it, without cutting any of that," McCarty said.

The billing error affected iPhone and Blackberry users from November
2005 to September 20-10. Even those qualifying for a reimbursement likely won’t
get the full amount they were overcharged. According to the settlement's
website, the money repaid by municipalities will also have to pay for court
costs of the lawsuit.

AT&T Billing Error Means Springfield Must Repay $273,000

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