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HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — Matthew Harvey is still laughing after seeing his latest water bill.

“It was more of a joke to me,” the Helena-West Helena resident said. “First thing I’m thinking is, how did this make it to my mailbox without somebody in management stopping this before it left their office?”

The Helena-West Helena Water Department had billed Harvey the eye-watering sum of more than $36,000. It’s hundreds of times the amount he usually pays.

“Water bill anywhere from $45 to no more than about $55,” Harvey said.

If he didn’t pay up by Nov. 15, Harvey’s latest bill threatened him with a $3,600 late fee.

But the veteran who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan didn’t end up having to pay it once he brought the five-figure bill to the water department’s attention Thursday.

It turned out he only owed $4.52. But he says the water department wasn’t able to explain the billing error.

“How did this happen? And she just said she didn’t know,” Harvey said.

A woman who answered the phone at the water department confirmed to WREG that Harvey’s $36,000 bill was a mistake that had been corrected. But an email to the manager of the water department seeking an explanation for the error wasn’t returned.

As Harvey waits for answers, he can do so with the peace of mind of running water that he knows isn’t costing him a small fortune.

“I’ve never ever seen a bill this high, besides you know, your mortgage statements,” Harvey said.

And now he’ll always be able to laugh about the time he legally skipped out on that gargantuan bill.