DeKalb CEO: Significant progress in addressing high water bills

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DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said the county is making significant progress in addressing the problems in the county’s water billing process. Those problems include:

  • Less than 1,300 bills, or 96 percent, remain held and are in the process of verification, from 37,000 held bills in 2017. There are 184,000 residential water customers and 10,000 business
  • Significant investments have been made in call center operations with new staff, training and technology. There are 75 customer service representatives in 2018, compared to 25 representatives in 2014.
  • Average wait time is 31 seconds compared to more than five minutes in 2016. More than 81 percent of calls currently are answered within one minute, compared to 54 percent in 2016.
  • New water utility billing system implementation began two months ago and projected completion is the first quarter of 2019.
  • In the fall of 2018, 102,000 out-of-life-cycle and potentially-defective small water meters will be replaced at a rate of 20,000 per year. Meter replacement is expected to take 3½ years. After replacement, 7 percent of all meters will be replaced annually to avoid this problem in the future.
  • Field service staffing has increased from 20 technicians in 2016 to 47 technicians.

“The problems with the county’s water billing system festered for decades because of mismanagement, corruption and lack of resources,” Thurmond said. “We are not responsible for creating these problems, but accept the responsibility for solving them. No customer will ever be penalized for DeKalb County errors.”

Thurmond held four public update meetings in 2017 during which he and staff detailed progress and addressed customer billing issues. Water billing staff were on-hand to assist with billing questions and disputes.

“We will continue the open dialogue with customers,” Thurmond said. “This is how public confidence is restored.”

Customers should call 404-378-4475 with water billing questions.

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