Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Cutoffs Are A'Coming

The well has run dry for those who don't pay their water bills in Jackson as the city is stepping up efforts to cut off water services for delinquent accounts.  Public Works Director Bob Miller said there are 20,000 delinquent accounts.  If the city does not improve its collections, the utility will be challenged to make $13 million in bond payments this year.





The Water/Sewer Ad Hoc Committee met yesterday.  Mr. Miller said billings during the first four months of FY 2019 were $20 million but collections were only $15 million.    The collections for water/sewer/waste are "below the level necessary to sustain operations."

Mr. Miller said his department focused on billing "stranded" accounts - accounts that were not receiving bills - from May to October.  He said his office is now focused on a collection strategy.  There are 20,000 delinquent accounts.  He said "the community had not performed turn off of non-payment of accounts for some number of years. It had stood down all of those collection practices."   The city is moving through 30 accounts per day but the Public Works Director said it should be moving through 200 accounts per day.  However, the department does not have the staffing to reach that goal nor turn off all the delinquent accounts at once.  However, only 3% of the meters require a manual turnoff.

The sewer maintenance section has an employee vacancy rate over 50% while the water maintenance section is nearly 50%.  He said the administration section was almost fully staffed but suffered from high turnover.   Mr. Miller said the staffing shortages were due to low wages and a lack of cash to open the budgeted positions for hiring.


Consultant Michelle Thomas said the city is going to issue an RFP this week for collection services.  She said the city would meet its "marks for the current fiscal year" if the city could collect 75% of the receivables.  However, she said the utility would not be able to repay $5.8 million to the general fund by the end of the current fiscal year on September 30 although it has to be repaid.   The city loaned $5.8 million to the utility last summer.  However, Ms. Thomas said non-repayment would not have a "negative effect" on the general fund as it had sufficient reserves.  She said the challenge would be to make bond payments this year, hence the extra attention given to collections.  Jackson's water/sewer bond payments will be $13 million this year. 

Mr. Miller said the receivables were $52.3 million for active accounts and $57.5 million for inactive accounts.   The vast majority of the receivables were residential accounts.  Councilman Aaron Banks pointed out that the Public Works budget was $264 million in FY 2018 but the 2019 budget is $209 million - a reduction of $55 million.   Mr. Miller said the reduction has not affected the department's ability to collect bills.

The utility has bond payments to make this year.  Mr. Miller said if nothing changes, there will not be enough money to repay the bonds.  The City Council went into executive session to discuss personnel matters and litigation. 

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Through years of "giving" things to people and creating our current sense of "entitlement" the masses have now decided that they are not required to pay for anything. City services are no exception. It is rapidly approaching the point that nobody in Jackson will be required to pay for water. The system is, or will soon be, bankrupt. Eventually it will have to be rescued by the Federal Government as a total shutdown is not an option although it should be. Maybe that would get the attention of the free-loaders.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. Jackson issued bonds for water service for the city. These bonds and interest payments are paid for with the money from the water bills. The city doesn't collect the water bills. What could possibly go wrong? The next problem is that the people who haven't been paying their bills are going to revolt because they have lost their free water. Insanity!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a map of who is and who isn't paying their water bill.

And I don't understand why some say they aren't receiving a bill. I've received and paid my water bill regularly for the eight years I've lived in Jackson. I think a lot of people either didn't bother setting up an account with the city, or they just throw the bill in the trash because they know the city isn't enforcing it.

Anonymous said...

As a little boy, I lived a little further north in the Appalachian Mountains. In that house, I grew up without running water and electricity. Living without water is the single greatest human rights violation I can imagine - without water, one cannot stay hydrated, one cannot get clean, and one cannot get rid of sewage. It's a damn shame so many people are struggling with such a fundamental human right. There should be a minimum amount of water usage "free of charge," that's covered through land tax, or something like that. My heart goes out to all the children who're going to go without because of decades of failed policy.

Anonymous said...

I can only speak for myself but my bill is wrong.I have been talking with them about it for several years and they do nothing about it. I have been paying a flat amount each month during the long gaps where we did not receive a bill. During these gaps, my balance increases by thousands of dollars even though I am paying a reasonable amount each month. When I call they admit that it does not look right but they do nothing about it. I think there is a big problem that they do not want to discuss publicly. The collections are not being posted to the accounts correctly or in a timely manner. I started paying my bill through my bank's BillPay feature so I will have a record of when I mailed the payment, when they received the payment, and when the payment was deposited. On average it takes them almost a month to deposit my check after they receive the check.It's laughable that they try to blame people for not paying. I know that I have been paying and I have the records to prove it. Despite paying my bill each month, my balance is over $6,000. This is a total mess.

Anonymous said...

A 3rd party collection agency is the only way to increase the revenue.

Too many cousins, aunties, and City employees that know each other. That's always been the problem. In the past if you didn't pay your water bill, you just called Stokes, or some other thief councilman and the water dept. would back off.

Looks like that's changing.

Anonymous said...

About F**ki*g Time!~

Anonymous said...

@901 - How do you know what is a reasonable amount to pay? Did you pick a number out of the sky? Trust me, I've paid well over 6k over the last 5 years since -- more like 10K...because I went online and paid my bill like a responsible citizen. I'm sure your flat fee of 25 month sounds reasonable, but it's not. I hope they make you pay every cent of what you owe, but not likely. City will fold to the pressures of the people who are done wrong.

Wont be long...there won't be many responsible citizens left to get the boat afloat. Start doing your part.

Anonymous said...

To 8:58:

I lived in a rental house in the City of Jackson for six months in 2015-2016 while we were between houses. During that time, we went four months without receiving a water bill.

When we finally did move, I went to Metrocenter to end my service, and the next month got another bill, and when I called them they said they had no record that I had come down there to disconnect.

It's been an administrative trainwreck for years, and the fault doesn't lie solely with the people who aren't paying.

Anonymous said...

FY 949am. I have been paying a lot more than $25/month. I have probably lived in Jackson a lot longer than you too so don't lecture me about doing my part.

Anonymous said...

Cutoffs will NEVER happen as long as Professor Klump, AKA Fat Albert, sits on the City Council.

Anonymous said...

8:58AM - water is cheap, but not free. Nothing is in fact free. Someone has to work for it. In Jackson, there are fewer workers than non-workers whose backs are breaking under the current tax and spend structure. And they are leaving. Paying a small water bill is the least a resident can do to help. I'd be OK with starting fresh since the City really needs to cash flow and has been incompetent in collecting for so long. It's likely impossible for anyone to know what is really owed to date anyway. Otherwise crack down and force some minimal amount of adult responsibility on folks.

Anonymous said...

In fact 949am, if you have paid $10,000 over the last 5 years that's $166.67 per month. My "Reasonable amount is greater than that.

Kingfish said...

Watch the video near the end. The capabilities of the employees are briefly mentioned.

Friend has the no bill problem. I told her to take three months where she got a bill, average them, and pay that average. It will eventually get straightened out and if she has to pay anything, it won't be much.

Anonymous said...

Dear 'little boy Bernie' at 8:58 - What about the human right to have electricity so one can have lights in the house in order to find their cell phones and iPads in the middle of the night? What about the human right to have four walls and a roof and pork chops provided by the government? And a right to have rims and bling and tats and get they nails did? Shit...where does your madness end?

Anonymous said...

Lived in a house for 3 years and never received a bill.

Louis LeFleur said...

Cutoffs? Cutoff?!?! I was looking for some Daisy Dukes pictures!

Anonymous said...

Just to remind those who still live in the City: Your "Water Bill" also includes garbage pickup and sewer charges. Waste Management does not work for free and the sewer system also has revenue bonds that must be paid. Kingfish is correct, average 3 months and keep paying that average and you will not owe much when your meter is finally cleared on the system. Some might be trying to say its been going on for years and yes, there have been a few who got away with not paying much or any. BUT, the majority of this came with the terrible contract given to Siemens to install automatic meter reading. It is my belief if the computer platforms for this Seimen's job were correct, then almost all billing would be correct and mailed. Seimen's failed the City of Jackson and the contract was so pro-Seimens and anti-Jackson recourse, that they basically "raped" the City. I have heard (no proof) that there are restaurants and hotels who have not paid. In my opinion, shut them down. The City might lose tax revenue but they would lose total revenue. I don't believe those invested in these enterprises would leave them empty for long. It is time for everyone working for the City to put Jackson first. No favoritism.

Anonymous said...

@10:10 AM. That is theft and I would not brag about it. My conscience tells me that if I am not honest in my "small" dealings then I am not honest at all.

Anonymous said...

A third party isn't going to do any good at collecting the bills, either, if members of the city council constantly ask the third party not to cut off "widow xyz's" water. As for collection activity, I'm not sure what "moving through accounts" means. But, a person on the phone should be able to call 100 accounts per day at least. And phone work should be the 2nd recourse after written notices fail. After that, you go disconnect the service. One field worker should be able to cut off service to at least 30 meters a day with proper route planning -- probably more. Having some experience with a water company, I can tell you: People won't pay unless they believe you will cut off their water if you don't.

Anonymous said...

@10:31 - Jackson's billing system was f'ed up lonnnng before Siemens entered the picture - go back and look. The reason they did 'every 2 months' billing was because of their crappy computer system going back to the '80s. Why does no other city in the country have this problem? Siemens has worked on a LOT of water systems throughout the country and didn't have this problem. They INHERITED this problem.

Anonymous said...

@8:58 and @10:01. Let me explain. Water is free. I'm dead serious. It is free and it should be free. So walk outside your house, look 1200 feet below you and there is an aquifer with free water. Seriously, it is free.

When you pay a water bill, you aren't paying for the water. As I said, the water is free. You are paying for the utility company to collect the free water, clean and disinfect it, and pipe it to your front door.

Water is free. You can drill your own well and use the free water to your heart's content. Of course, the well driller won't work for free, and the electricity to run the well isn't free, and maintenance of the well isn't free.........

Anonymous said...

I could totally be wrong on this, but it seems that Robert Miller is fairly competent. I get the feeling he is doing a good job. He is just in an impossible situation. But he seems like a good hire for Jackson. Admittedly, I'm on the outside looking in.

Anonymous said...

10:10, prove it. What is your name?

Anonymous said...

Next.

There's your solution.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone read their water or electric meters to verify that the city is reading them correctly (or at all?) Yup -- it's a little effort but the meter generally doesn't lie. Garbage pickup is usually a fixed fee per month and sewer is either fixed or calculated as a percentage of water use. I understand that this is advanced math and a hassle for some folks but I sure as hell would be doing it if I lived in such a screwed-up, run-by-dumbarses place like Jackson...

Shuck N Jive said...

What about those of us who are contesting bills which are in the 400-500$ range per month for a 2,000 sqft 3/2? Had a licensed plumber come out and check to verify no leaks. City says they'll have to send someone out to physically read the meter. I look every few days...still the same grime and muck covered over it. So, the city cares not about actually reading meters and getting their *estimated* billing corrected when it's clearly wrong.
What does the city plan to do about this???

Anonymous said...

I believe the amount outstanding on active and certainly inactive accounts is substantially over stated- the statements I have seen have a computer error that will double the amount owed from previous periods- with no activity - a software glitch is what I think you would call it.

Anonymous said...

MAC and Associates...Now in the 3rd party water consulting and bill collecting bid'ness. See my secretary for a picture of my credentials on my wall.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please tell me what I am seeing in incorrect? $57.5 million for inactive accounts? Is that accounts that were active, then moved or closed with out collecting? So basically the $57.5 million is uncollectable? If so, Jackson deserves 110% of this mess. Over half of the outstanding water bills(in excess of $100 million) is uncollectable? Awwww Lawwwddd. CoCo wit da PoPo sho sounds like more fun than actually running a city.

Anonymous said...

Stamps notes that property tax collections are declining.

Mbrookes said...

I get a bill every month. I pay for garbage, sewage, and a set amount to make up for no bill for several months. I do not have a water charge and the meter reading has not changed in at least a year. Every month I call to inquire about water usage. They always say they are sending someone out to check my meter. Next month.... same thing. I have to assume the entire department is populated by idiots or crooks. Maybe both.

Cousin Eddie said...

12:39 PM Duh! I wonder why?
I moved outta Jacktown 4 yrs ago to Pearl. My water bill went from $ 97.00 month to $ 21.00 a month. I took that saving and put it toward payments for a new Lexus SUV. BAMB!

Put that in your pipe Cockway!

Anonymous said...

Why are bill remittances sent to Memphis when they could be processed right here in Jackson?

Anonymous said...

Not every house is metered, I rented one for 5+years that was straight piped from the line. That's the way I found it and the way I left it.

Anonymous said...

Your going to burn in Hell 1:40 PM and wish you had the water you stoled.

Come On KF, the Captca is too many clicks.

Anonymous said...

What did it cost CoJ when st . D went to well? Must have been a bit.....

Stinky Stank said...

Why am I paying to have my shit pumped out of Madison to Jackson and paying again for Jackson to pump my shit into the Pearl? Can't the legislature just demand that Jackson become a Septic Field Line?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone up to this point taken any civil action against Siemens, the city of Jackson or the installation contractor who installed these electronic meters? If I recall correctly, this problem didn't exist prior to the conversion of the meters.

Anonymous said...

That woman who gave the Dem Response last nite will be here in a flash, wearing an ACLU windbreaker, if Chockie tries to cut all these non-working, non-paying voters off.

John said...

On a slightly different topic, has it occurred to anyone that traffic control in Jackson is abysmal? I see people running lights, not stooping at stop signs, and breaking traffic laws every time I'm out on the streets. Where is JPD? Why do they not issue more citations for moving violations?

One theory I've heard is that (like leniency in water collections) the powers that be don't want to enforce traffic laws because poor folks can't afford to pay the fines.

If that's true, it's stupidity on a monumental level. Jackson could solve a significant number of its woes if drivers were aggressively ticketed. Additional cops could be funded by the collections.

The roads are hazardous enough. Allowing (or empowering) people to break the traffic laws makes it doubly dangerous to drive on the streets of Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Just do not be one of the last left in Jackson with a bank account for you will stuck with a hell of a bill.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

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!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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