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Water billing problems persist, frustrating newcomers to the city

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 at 7:03 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - For a few years now, getting a water bill in the city of Jackson was hit or miss for some customers.

The city is working on the issue but not soon enough for newcomers to the Capital City.

“Everyone is at least willing to pay their utility bill as long as it’s fairly communicated and fairly priced,” said Brandon Huddleston.

The medical student moved to Jackson in January and has never received a water bill. He contacts the water department every two months hoping to get a statement.

“Basically what they told me is there is an error in the system and I can expect to pay for the water but unfortunately it’s gonna just be a huge bill in one lump sum, and they said I don’t have to pay it all at one time but nobody wants to walk to their mailbox and have a bill for 12 months of utilities they’ve been using. It’s kind of hard to budget for all that,” said Huddleston.

It’s frustrating for the 22-year-old who wants an estimate and dreads being put on a payment plan. For new residents the process is baffling.

“I just hope that the city will actually hear that this is an issue that’s been going on for a long time,” added the Little Rock, Mississippi native. “It’s something that new residents are continuing to experience.”

But since 2017 Jackson residents have been plagued with outrageous water bills, some even in the tens of thousands of dollars or received no statements.

The city settled a $90 million lawsuit with Seimens over the water billing and meter systems.

In September the Jackson City Council voted to hire PREO GROUP, LLC to develop options to replace the current billing software and meter data management system.

“On December 22, 2020, a contract will be presented to City Council for authorization to purchase a new billing system for the Water Sewer Billing Administration (WSBA),” said Jackson Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Robert Blaine. “The new system is expected to solve many of the issues customers are experiencing related to stranded or incorrect bills. It will also include a digital self-service feature to allow customers to monitor usage and make payments.”

City officials anticipate the project will take approximately 14 months to complete installation and realign WSBA to best support the new software solution.

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