Friday, December 28, 2018

Jackson Seeks Water Bill Relief

Will the legislature help Jackson with its delinquent water bills? Justin Vicery reported in the Clarion-Ledger yesterday:

Jackson's financial future depends on whether the city is able to collect on its water bills to customers.

The city is missing out on upwards of $20 million in revenue, a result of what has been for years a broken billing process that has led to "a culture" of nonpayment, city officials have said.

Following wide-scale efforts to improve water bill collections — and ahead of inevitable water shutoffs at the start of the new year — Public Works Director Robert Miller is proposing the City Council seek legislative relief.

Those measures range from legislative authority to collect delinquent payments through the debtor's state income tax to grants to help those who genuinely can't afford to pay.

The unaccounted-for revenue has led to shortfalls in the city's water and sewer departments which, in turn, has affected the city's bond rating and limited the number of infrastructure projects the city can invest in. ...

First, he determined nearly a third of the city wasn't getting a water bill, then he worked to get accurate bills out. He hired a director of collections, and the city is now attempting to recoup water bill revenue.

There are still about 20,000 delinquent water and sewer bills, he said.

"What we often face is we end up with a bill we can’t collect on our books and a bill that they cannot pay on their books," Miller said at a recent City Council legislative committee meeting.

"If you can’t collect it, the number is imaginary, and we believe it’s worth your consideration to take this matter before the state Legislature for their consideration," Miller told council members.

One legislative item would give the city authority to "adjust" or "release" the debt of water customers under these circumstances:

Water or sewer department error.
Unforeseen damage, extreme weather-related events or mandatory evacuations.
The customer is "disproportionately impoverished or in need."

The city, through Miller, is also asking for a water affordability act that would provide grants to help low-income residents pay water and sewer bills. .... Rest of article.
Stay tuned.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

So genuinely asking... what does a real water bill look like these days? I didn't get a water bill for a looong time and just paid in $35 per month. Then I start getting a bill that states my monthly charges are $150 per month plus an amount owed for previous months I didn't get a bill which averages $115 for all those past months ($150 less what I paid it appears). So they say I owe them thousands of dollars plus my bill is $150 going forward.

Is $150 per month a real rate?

Do all have to now pay $150 or will the poor folks pay less and only working class and wealthy have to pay?

Does anyone know what my situation will look like?

Anonymous said...

10:44, does the bill have meter readings to support what they say you owe (meter readings, etc.)? If not, it's the responsibility of the provider to prove the debt, I'd pay only what the city can prove, and if they forward you to collections simply cite the FCRA.

Anonymous said...

I left Jackson a few years ago, and my water bill was about $150 per month. I was alone in my (small) house and I didn't use any water for the yard/garden.

Now, for my family of 3, we pay about $30 per month for water from the North Hinds Water Association. We have a toddler, so we wash plenty of laundry, do lots of dishes and run baths every night. I honestly don't ever stop to consider my usage.

One more point of perspective: my relatives on the west coast (household of two) are paying $300 per month - even while rationing. They cut the shower while they soap, use a water-efficient appliances, replaced their lawn with native plants/shrubs, and cut all the other corners they can.

Anonymous said...

No justice;No peace

Anonymous said...

Bill is sky high for those few that actually pay their bill but most do now and get away with it . State of Mississippi has no stake in this for if they do the City of Jackson will soon be an agency of the State. Then all other mismanaged cities can then become run my the State. This will once started will never end.

Anonymous said...


They should go to a flat fee system. It would eliminate a lot of employees, simplify the process and while not perfect, would increase collections.

I bet those "poor folks" they keep referring to all have cell phones and cable TV.

Anonymous said...

IF Jackson will relieve travelers and let the Airport go to some competent people. Flew out last week and it is pitiful. The staff there is totally uninterested in being an ambassador for the state. it is a shit hole.

Anonymous said...

@11:12 North Hinds has a good system. In full fairness and disclosure, I assume your Jackson bill was water, sewer, and possibly even garbage. Your North Hinds bill is probably only water. I don't think they have sewer. So it's not an "apples to apples" comparison. But North Hinds is a good water association. They do a nice job.

Anonymous said...

@11:38 a flat fee system is absolutely the wrong way to do things. However, in Jackson's case it might be best. Their process is so broken, it might be the best way. Not sure if it's legal though.

Anonymous said...

“Those measures range from legislative authority to collect delinquent payments through the debtor's state income tax to grants to help those who genuinely can't afford to pay.”

So the city gubmit wants the authority to excuse certain demographics from paying.. look out NE Jackson! I bet y’all end up subsidizing your felllow citizens!!!

Anonymous said...

I live in southern Rankin County, and my bill is around $85 per month. Household of 4 ( 2 adults and 2 college students) that do the average showering, washing clothes, washing dishes, and watering yard. This bill includes water, sewer, and trash pickup.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Jackson should look at a few of the 10's of THOUSANDS of cities and towns in the US that process water bills and collect revenue and maintain infrastructure and somehow have managed to do it for the last 100 years without it being an annual crisis. It's not rocket science but it does require some measure of work and honesty.
To the person making the comparison to the west coast - puh-lease. What doesn't cost more on the west coast? How about comparing Jackson to any city or town in the Southeast.

Anonymous said...

11:05 this is 10:44:
Most bills say "est usage" and they still do some but many of the latest don't mention "est usage". I tried to read the meter myself but it has been broken for probably six months now so I stopped trying.

Anonymous said...

NE Jackson is becoming a minority area while white flight or the old guard is dying off. Then who will pay for Jackson water problems. Rankin County?

Anonymous said...

12:16
We already subsidize our fellow citizens, and have for many years.

Anonymous said...

@12:13, this is 11:12, and you're absolutely right. Trash is a separate bill and we have a septic system. If we factor in semi-annual septic maintenance, and trash pickup, we're probably all in for $75 a month.

Very satisfied with North Hinds Water. We've not had an interruption in service yet, and the water quality is fair.

Anonymous said...

The customer is "disproportionately impoverished or in need. - will there be criteria to determine this. Will anyone actually check out the claim that they truly cannot pay? I am betting no on this. Yep, a large portion of Jackson residents are still not going to pay a water bill.........

Anonymous said...

This situation should have been handled as soon as the problem arose before it got out of hand.

Anonymous said...

I live in rankin county. Pearl river valley water supply district. If you are one day late they send out a disconnect notice. They don’t play. And they will cut your water off if you don’t pay your bill.

It’s unfathomable that there are so many delinquent accounts who are still being provided with service in the city of Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Live in Jackson and can't complain about the amount of my water bill - either now, or before the new system. Granted, I am a minimum user (single resident, no landscape watering) - TOTAL bill runs $35 to $40 a month; water $4 to $5; sewer $13 to $15; garbage $4.80/week so depending on month $19 to $24. (Getting hosed on garbage collection based on usage but realize it is a fixed cost no matter how much trash I generate.)

Problem with billing is not with the amount, because once they got the system fixed to actually bill based on use, but the fact that the city is not collecting on many of the users that haven't paid for years - and now are being sympathetic and claiming that they can't pay what is due even with the payment plans being offered. Before the taxpayers have to start forgiving these bills, we should check to make sure that the debtors aren't paying for cable TV, cell service, or other non-necessities.

Anonymous said...

I live in Clinton - 2 adults and 2 kids. Water/sewer/garbage bill averages $70/month.

Anonymous said...

@1:36 that is funny about PRVWSD. Good for them. I work at a central Mississippi water provider. When we did cutoffs last month, I had one customer tell me "I don't think this was an accident, I think ya'll cut my water off intentionally." I told him "You didn't pay your bill, so you are correct that we did it intentionally. That's the whole point."

Anonymous said...

I'd tell you how low our water/garbage/sewer bill is in Madison County, but then you would probably want to move here. Stay away! Nothing to see here! You elected those fools! Own it! Suck it up, snowflakes!

Anonymous said...

Jackson, your typical DIM-O-KRAT utopia dream!!!!!

Below average incompetent employees led by totally useless leaders.

Anonymous said...

One of the few services that pays for itself and can make money is that of water.Sewers and trash no but water can be a good money maker if managed properly. How to you think small water associations in rural area can make it; they tend to business. No payment no water. Jackson is a good example of poorly managed socialism. May be the worse run city in the country.

Anonymous said...

"This situation should have been handled as soon as the problem arose before it got out of hand.
December 28, 2018 at 1:34 PM"

No, genius, this "problem" should never have arisen at all.

Anonymous said...

The city government of Jackson is incompetent. The state should not enable this incompetence.

If another city in Mississippi (or another state) declared that they could not collect, say, taxes due, and they were going to go broke, they should not be bailed out. You don't enable incompetence.

There are many other alternatives. The city, for example, could sell the water department or service. A private company might pay considerable amounts for the opportunity to be a local utility.

The city government's incompetence is also on full display at the Jackson Wiley Evers Airport. The upper level pick-up and drop-off lanes are still "under construction" after months and months of work. The West Concourse of the airport is worse than most third-world airports: There are no functioning bathrooms after you pass TSA and it has been that way for weeks. There is only a single runway. The airport is a third-world experience that should disturb most locals and does disturb every visitor.

We have incompetence at all levels of city government starting at the top and continuing through all the city council. Jackson is an embarrassment. It is very sad.

Anonymous said...

They will have to sue the hell out of siemens duh that is the answer. Many many millions. Big big money. We will all come out smelling purtier

Anonymous said...

Maybe instead of bailing out Jackson, the state legislature should just move the state capital to one of your finer, economically and culturally advanced Mississippi cities -- you know, like Meridian, Greenville, Columbus, Greenwood, Laurel, Natchez, Yazoo City, etc.

John said...

Does Siemens have any culpability in correcting these problems, or did the City of Jackson screw it up all by themselves?

Pappy Odaniel said...

The legislature may as well get used to this and start pumping cash to Jackson and start putting money away for Rankin County. What happened in Jefferson County Alabama and their bankruptcy is exactly what is happening in the metro area. Decaying, unmaintained water and sewer infrastructure coupled with suburban areas overbuilding new infrastructure without the customers to support it equals bills neither can pay. The legislature supported building a new, wholly unnecessary WWTP in Rankin County so that they could divorce from Jackson. Neither can make it without the other. This plant will easily be 2.5 to 3 times more expensive than Pickering (who has never built a plant like this) estimates (Also intersting how this estimate has no correlation to like-type plant costs in the last ten years...but is almost exactly the estimated share of Rankin County’s costs for Savannah Street plant repairs). And that is without the additional cost of piping and pumping to the new plant location miles on the EAST side of 49 and pumping and piping of effluent back to the west of 49 to discharge in the Pearl River.

Anonymous said...

8:44

Siemens sold a product.

Seriously doubt they had any obligation to actually do accounts receivable.

Anonymous said...

us loyal Jacksonians May look like the bottom to you white flight Madison people but don’t you see what you see as a crisis Is actually an opportunity. See folks Siemens sold us on the dream of meters that sends a signal to the meter mans truck as he drives past once a month. As we know... that didn’t work out well. First, the meters all went haywire. Then a whole bunch of employees took advantage of the situation big time with a bunch of funny business of all types of fraud. Remember when 60 people got arrested? Then if you had any sense, when you stopped getting a bill you stopped paying. Free water for a long damn time. Now somebody has to pay. Who will it be? Well Siemens of course. And I would like to personally thank them for doing so. Probably saved me several thousand dollars. You mfers in Madison let me know when some big Corp pays your water bill for four years and counting. but don’t worry your pretty little heads we will survive this with minimal inconveniences to our citizens and we will still be here for you to comment on and continue bitching about 2019 and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Before moving North two years ago my water bill was over $300.00 USD per month . Now my H2o provider is Bear Creek and my bill averages around $45.00 USD per month. It’s stunning to see how the ruling class has screwed things up so badly in the Bold New City.

Anonymous said...

A "culture of non-payment" naturally arises when people realize that only suckers pay their bills.

Anonymous said...

We also have Bear Creek Water and pay $45/month for water/sewer.

How is that "Radical City" working out for y'all?

Anonymous said...

Actually there are two cultures.

A "culture of non-payment", 82%... and a culture that does pay, 18%.

Baby Chok said...

Living in the radical city includes a radical water bill!

Anonymous said...

9:20 you are funny. I hope that you were trying to make joke for if not you are crazy.

Cynical Sam said...

Before y'all know it your radical mayor will fix everything and it will be water under the bridge. Hee hee.

Oh wait, it will be fixing the water problems or the pot-hole problems, but not both. For the most part Jackson doesn't need streets, because who goes to work? Oh wait, they need streets for the drive-bys to be able to shoot little babies.

Anonymous said...

For comparison - we live in the City of Madison. Water, sewer and garbage pickup (twice a week) are billed thru Bear Creek Water and around $80 on average (around $100 if we water yard during summer) - family of four. Water quality reports are annual and are on-line for anyone in the public (Madison resident or not). Bills show actual usage each month. Based on the above it looks like we’te pretty comparable on cost to Clinton and South Rankin County. Hope that comparison helps.

Anonymous said...

To me the real travesty is the fact that the Public Service Commission continues to give Jackson a pass. A couple of years ago, when I still lived in Jackson, I looked up the regulations for public utilities on the PSC website and found that my water bill violated several of them. From what has been posted, I wasn’t the only one.

Shades of Bernie Sanders said...

I keep thinking about Kenny Stokes and the rest of the radicalized City Council and mayor. You know damned well they will want to carve-out about 75% of the renters in Jackson and claim they are 'disproportionately impoverished', whatever that means. And that group (in fact a majority) will be free services of every sort.

So, to recap...the city hired a professional to be in charge of this corrupt program and he comes before his employer to suggest the employer dump this untenable situation at the feet of the State Legislature. In case a few of you don't recognize it, this reeks of socialism.

How are all these disproportionate folk managing to pay for electric service, cable, cell phones and car tags?

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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