S&WB Director: residents 'deserve better' than being overbilled

S&WB Director apologizes for customers overbilled

NEW ORLEANS -- Sewerage and Water Board Interim Director Robert Miller was in the hot seat Tuesday at New Orleans City Hall.

"It was every single day, we were getting complaints that they were getting bills that were six times larger than they had ever received before," Council member Stacy Head said.

Head, along with others members of the Council, had a lengthy list of complaints about recent billing issues, many of it directly from constituents.

"Just a hostile tone regarding the person who talks to them," Council member James Gray said.

"And always blaming either customer or the Department of Public Works," Council member Susan Guidry said.

"When do we see the light here we are we going to get things addressed?" asked Council member LaToya Cantrell.

For all of the complaints, Miller apologized.

"We understand and how frustrating it is for the customers, and we agree that those affected customers deserve better," Miller said.

He explained a combination of software issues along with a lack of manpower led to duplicate billing for nearly 5,000 customers over the past few moths, but it's a problem he says that will be corrected by mid-October.

However, that's not good enough for Toni McCormick who told Eyewitness News that her bill has fluctuated for about eight years.

"I figured I use three full sinks a day," McCormick said.

McCormick has measured her usage, and she doesn't think it adds up.

"You can see it's very difficult to to read that meter," McCormick pointed to her water meter outside her house.

She's skeptical the meter even works properly and that's just one in a series of complaints she's documented against the board.

All of the issues, combined with property tax hikes and other city-related issues she says have pushed her to move away. 

"It's the lack of infrastructure.  After visiting other cities and other states, after seeing what a real infrastructure is, coming back here... You know at the end of the day, culture doesn't cut it. Culture doesn't pay for the bills." McCormick said.

McCormick is still planning her move, but until she leaves, she vows to turn up the heat against city leaders to get the billing and other water issues resolved.

At last check, 2,557 accounts still need to be corrected.  According to S&WB, that will be done by October 10th.
 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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