NEW ORLEANS - Annette Joseph recently rebuilt her 7th Ward triplex from the ground up, so she was shocked to see the bill for one unit rise every month since work finished -- especially since it’s vacant.
“It started, like, $54, then crept up to $96. Now it went up to … $170,” she told WWL-TV during a special City Council meeting Tuesday to discuss ongoing issues with the Sewerage & Water Board. “So all together total we’re looking at $311.”
Joseph was one of several people who waited hours to vent their frustrations about their high water bills.
Joseph said she was particularly upset since the S&WB has admitted it installed the water meters wrong at her property. Still, she said, she’s having trouble getting repairs made.
“They gave me the runaround,” she said of any visits to the S&WB office to try to get the matter resolved.
Paul Rainwater, who is among the leaders of the interim team running the S&WB, said he’ll do what he can to try to resolve the agency’s notoriously frustrating billing issues, but noted that he and his team are gone Nov. 30.
She wasn’t alone in her frustration.
Terry Burns, who works with the New Orleans Hotel Group, said his bills have gone up by thousands of dollars in recent months, and he’s not sure why.
He said the meters are in the basement of the hotels he helps to manage and he hasn’t seen anyone from the S&WB read the meters.
“We’ve started to take our own readings since mid-last year, and they never match the reading that the city sends out on the bill,” Burns.
As for Joseph, she said she’s persistent, but even her patience with the S&WB is wearing thin.
“They (the S&WB workers) have a job, they want to get paid a paycheck, yet you don’t want to deal with the customers.”
The S&WB did provide Joseph with staff to speak to after she addressed the City Council in an effort to help get her problem resolved.