Missing M.U.D. payments found in unused drop box

A mystery has been solved when it comes to MUD payments previously thought to be missing.
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:24 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A mystery is solved in downtown Omaha. It involved utility payments missing for months after online searches take customers to an old location.

6 News’ Mike McKnight tracked down the problem and discovered a safe answer.

Rather than ask for forgiveness from M.U.D., Kip Ayer wanted to avoid a late gas and water bill by paying on a Sunday two weeks ago.

“Walked up to the drop box, dropped it in like so and looked in there to make sure it wasn’t stuck anywhere,” Ayer said.

But M.U.D. never got his money order payment.

“I’ve got six kids at home and now they’re threatening to shut me off and I clearly have proof that I paid $300.”

But it’s where he paid that the mystery begins.

“All I did was put it on Google, the address to bring down a payment to drop it off, and this is where it brought me.”

The online address he pulled up for Metropolitan Utilities District showed 1723 Harney. But M.U.D. moved out of the building almost four years ago. It’s now Juvenile Probation and every week Lillie Hoy talks to several confused visitors.

“That they’re here to pay a bill, they looked up online that this is M.U.D., and they want to make their payments but that’s not here anymore, hasn’t been here for a while,” Hoy with Juvenile Probation said.

But until 6 News contacted M.U.D. and Juvenile Probation, nobody knew the old M.U.D. drop box still had an opening.

“I’m surprised, I feel bad for the people who tried to pay their bills on time, I thought it was sealed,” said Mark Visek, the Chief Juvenile Probation Officer.

Monday morning, building commission staff replaced the sealed slot cover they found had been pulled open.

“Put screws in the top so you couldn’t open the door,” a repair worker said. “But somebody pried it hard enough that they pulled these screws out.”

Inside the Probation employee break room closest is the old M.U.D. payment drop box safe.

M.U.D. Manager of Customer Accounting Dylies King came back to the old M.U.D. headquarters with a combination and guidance from Big Red Locksmith on opening the electronic safe lock.

Six payments were found inside, most dated in 2022.

“We’ll take these six payments back to our offices and look at the customer accounts then contact the customers and see if they’d like us to apply it to their payment or return it to them,” King said.

And among the six payments is Ayer’s, dropped in the drop box two weeks ago.

“I’ve got his account held, he will not be shut off,” King said.

“Mystery solved,” Ayer said. “And I’m really relieved. They could have really put us in a bind if they wouldn’t have opened that up and found that check in there.”

Only dust remains in the drop box safe.

And that safe should remain empty because the slot is tightly sealed and there’s a sign telling M.U.D. customers it’s no longer a payment drop box.

Mike McKnight alerted Mapquest to the address issues. The president of M.U.D. Mark Doyle says all customers who used the old drop box are being taken care of and online search services using the wrong address will be contacted.

The correct places to pay your M.U.D. bill can be found online.