WARR ACRES, Oklahoma - The City of Warr Acres says it's down nearly half a million dollars in unpaid sewer bills, so the city is left picking up the tab because it cannot shut off sewer service to those residents.

For decades, Warr Acres has maintained its sewer lines while Oklahoma City runs its water lines. So when Warr Acres residents don't pay their sewer bills, the service won't get shut off because water is still on.

"It's been a problem for years, but it's becoming a larger problem," said City of Warr Acres attorney Matthew Love.

A large problem with a huge price tag is Warr Acres utility bill. Sewer and trash service costs about $28.50 a month for the average resident, and about $9,000 a month for an entire apartment complex, but many aren't paying it.

"It's primarily the residential accounts, that just a little bit each month and a little more each month, they get delinquent and more delinquent," said Love, who's worked for the city since 2009.

The bills are so delinquent, the city turned over 1,526 customer accounts to a collection agency. The city has been out of $408,803.24 in past due bills since 2006, and only $47,349.09 has been collected.

That still leaves a $361,454.15 outstanding balance, which doesn't even include $98,472.88 due from residents in the last 60 days.

"So this is very real money, that's money that if we don't collect through our utility fees, we have to pay from our sales tax money," Love said. "And that's less money we can spend to fix potholes, less money we can spend to put police and fire on the streets and less money to have clerks at city hall."

Since the state won't allow the city to shut off sewer services, more residents keep getting over, and the unpaid sewer fees continue to pour in.

"We're not trying to be bill collectors or a corporate profiteer," Love said. "We're just trying to collect the money that is owed to be able to pay for these services so that we can provide the maximum services."

Oklahoma City is working with Warr Acres to see if it can shut off water for the residents who aren't paying their sewer bills.

Warr Acres is also look into a legislative solution to get the bills paid.