DECATUR, Ga. – The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution introduced by DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May which empowers the chief financial officer (CFO) with discretion to address unusually high water bills due to billing or meter errors.
The legislation clarifies code sections 25-106(f) to specify that the CFO has the authority to make adjustments to a customer’s account for billing errors, as long as the dispute was recorded within two years of the billing error itself.
“This legislation gives us the ability to inject some common sense back into the process of evaluating erroneous bills and make a fair adjustment to our customers,” said Interim CEO May. “This is not the only solution, but it goes a long way to rectifying some of our longstanding issues.”
The resolution also stops the installation of the new iPerl water meters and calls for the establishment of convenient bill resolution sites around the county during the moratorium.
Another proactive step addresses excessively high bills. In these cases, Chief Operating Officer Zach Williams has directed the Utility Customer Operations Center to send out estimated bills with messaging that indicates that the county is investigating the cause of the variance. Once a high variance is detected, a work order for a water meter inspection will automatically be generated.
“Sending out estimated bills will let our customers know what is going on with their accounts in a timely manner, as well as provide a mechanism for them to pay their average amount due while we get to the root of the problem,” COO Williams said.
On Sept. 20, Interim CEO May issued a moratorium through the end of 2016 on the disconnection of residential water accounts that have been contested through the Utility Customer Operations Center.
Water customers who believe their bill is in error should notify the Utility Customer Operations Center at 774 Jordan Lane in Decatur, or call (404) 371-3000 to speak with a customer service representative. Account holders with disputed balances are required to pay their average amount due until the case is resolved, with the balance, if any, due at the time the investigation is complete.
Further, a third-party dispute process is being developed to provide customers an additional avenue to resolve their disputes. This process will be implemented during the moratorium.
There will be no water service disconnections for customers with account balances in dispute who have paid their average bill through the end of 2016.