Monday, July 12, 2021

The Cut-Offs Will No Longer be Cut Off

The state is forcing Jackson to finally get serious about collecting water/sewer bills.  The city banned cutoffs for nonpayment of water/sewer bills in May 2020 although it has cut off the cutoffs several times since 2016. Such practices created a destitute water/sewer system that is on the verge of collapse.  The water/sewer system should be a money-maker but instead operates at a loss of nearly $20 million per year.  Fortunately, the free water for those who do not pay their bills will come to an end in September.

Bedeviled by tens of millions of dollars in uncollected water bills, Jackson asked the legislature to change the law barring municipalities from forgiving uncollectable water bills. The legislature gave Jackson what it wanted in HB #359 but with several conditions. 

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Public Service Utilities Staff Executive Director Sally Doty agreed to a plan that will start whipping the water/sewer finances back into shape. The agreement spells out the problem that HB #359 hopes to solve: 

According to Mississippi law, a debt to a municipality can only be compromised under very limited circumstances. Likewise, the statute of limitations does not run on debt to a municipality. Accounts receivables for the City of Jackson reveal nearly three decades of accumulated water and sewer debt, a great deal of which has accumulated since 2014. Addressing this large build-up of debt is the key to allowing the City of Jackson to recover necessary operating revenues, restore trust, redevelop good payment behavior among customers, and secure a better financial position for the City of Jackson. Central to the recovery of the City's Water-Sewer Enterprise, which funds the operation, maintenance, and debt service of the City Water-Sewer Utility, will be the promotion of the payment of bills by customers as they become due, rather than the continuation of the current habit of arrearage accumulation caused by disputed bills and affordability.

Under the agreement between Jackson and the Public Utilities Staff,  Jackson must cut off the moratorium on cutoffs that has been in place since May 2020 and collect what it can collect. Jackson can not cut off the cutoffs again unless federal or state authorities declare a state of emergency.   The moratorium will expire on September 1.

 The numbers tell the story of Jackson's water woes.  The city suffers nearly $40 million in uncollected water bills from 14,558 active accounts. Only $863,58 is disputed by active customers.  Jackson will start cutting off these delinquent accounts on September 1 if they do not enter installment plans as directed under HB #359.  

Another 16,903 accounts account for $43,362,105 in "inactive debt."  Jackson will hire several collection agencies to pursue payment from accounts that have a "potential for recovery" while the rest are moved over to a classification of "doubtful claims." Doing so permits Jackson's water/sewer accounts to reflect reality instead of arcane accounting rules.  In effect, this debt is a charge off but is not called a charge off. 

In addition to re-instituting cut-offs, the city will establish a minimum payment option for "stranded bills."  Many water/sewer customers do not receive bills.   Customers will enter a stranded bill program by March 1, 2022 if they are not receiving bills.  

 The city must also report to the state by January 1, 2022 to the: 

* Revenue collection

* Number of accounts that are uncollectable

* Number of accounts placed in installment plans

* Number of accounts that are past due

* Effect of program on Jackson's water/sewer revenue collection


The city will establish a "Ratepayer Assistance Program".   The program allows current customers to pay their monthly bill and $10 per month until either the balance is paid or 24 months expires, whichever comes first.  Customers must  pay their bill on time for three months before they can enter the program.  They must use some form of government assistance (such as TANF or SNAP) and show they applied for federal or state utility assistance.  

Enrolled customers must pay on time every time or else they will be kicked out of the program.  They can only be reinstated one time if they bring their bill current and pay a fee (that is not yet determined.).  

Crazy, exorbitant water bills have tormented many Jacksonians ever since the Siemens project began.  The agreement allows such customers to pay 40% of the balanced owed in installments over 24 months.  They must pay their current bill and 10% of the reduced balance to initiate the program. 

The new policies do not apply to commercial accounts as their lines are greater than one inch.   The city will sue delinquent account-holders unless arrangements are made.  Apartment complexes will not be subjected to cutoffs.  However, the city will turn over such delinquent accounts to a lawyer or collection agency.



Anonymous said...

Empty some parking meters............fix some parking meters..........cut some fat and fire some cousins from the city payroll.....THIS is what will happen, ChokonmyLaDumbo will OVERCHARGE the wealthier side of the city AND BYRAM for water then forget to collect the not so wealthy in other parts of the city. Bank on it.

Anonymous said...

So, does this mean I will receive a bill before Sept? I don't know how to get on the internet to check my bill

Anonymous said...

Soooo....Just like most other things you must be on a bunch of gubment programs to qualify for the forgiveness. If you make a good living and try to do the right thing and you pay now!!!

Anonymous said...

The mess will just get bigger for there is no way Jackson can carry out this program. This requires way too much thinking and doing.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that the city will simply refuse to abide by their agreement and the state will give them a pass as they always do. A real state government made up of people of integrity would have removed or locked up these clowns by now. Then again this is the same legislature that won't kick out the drunks and wife beaters in their own ranks so that is par for the course.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:39.

Bet that this rule is not applied equally across the zip codes.

And to the voters, the mean ol' governor took away the free water they should not have to pay for already.

Chock will still be the hero to them.

Anonymous said...

He completely ignored the Feds & the EPA what makes anyone think he's going to adhere to the stipulations issued by the State?

Anonymous said...

Receivership. Step One.

Anonymous said...

And just like that, Kenny and Chokwe are holding hands again.

Anonymous said...

They haven't been paid by me in 2 years because the dumb son of a bitches can't even send me a bill. They are imbeciles who can't function. We are operating on a third world level here in Jackson because there is no accountability.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the Siemens settlement money?

Anonymous said...

Have seen no evidence during Lumumba's reign of errors that his administration can execute against a plan regardless how simple and/or defined it may be.

Anonymous said...

Paid $20 a month for years until the last bill received (2-3 years ago) which was $660. Tried incessantly to resolve but no one would ever call us back.

Healthy jump from $20 to $660. Haven't received a bill or return call from anyone since. Hope they're not gonna be overly stupid when resurrecting their billing dept.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even able to connect to the internet. How am I supposed to pay the bill? How much is my bill? Where do I send the payment? Can the city please answer these simple questions first before cutting off my water? Hell....can they at least pick up the storm debris from over 2 months ago. Please, oh please....can someone with 1/2 a brain please take over this city. Please...I'm begging

Anonymous said...

A good portion of that could be paid by the $30mil that was paid to Chockwe's attorney buddies in the Siemens suit, but nobody wants to talk about that. We could have $90mil vs $60mil. Thirty is a lot of millions.

Anonymous said...

couldn't Jackson water customers, who have high bills, sue the city to make them prove that’s what they owe? I always see people complaining but does they have a legal option?

Anonymous said...

It makes no difference who pays or not.

Jackson can't even provide water most days of the year.

BTW, a couple of National Guard folks have said their Generals have said " there is no way that they would enter Jackson ".

Just a few examples:

1. Legally they have no authority to arrest civilians, unless there is a major Federal declared emergency.

2. It would solve nothing in the long run.

3. Only the MP units are trained for such a goofy idea.

4. They could not stay in Jackson for ever.

He had many other observations that I can't post.

(Off topic, it seems Cafe Press has no more Stoke's caps in stock).

Pappy Odaniel said...

Slightly off-topic but how much did the city get from Rankin County in their various agreements? Rankin County owes the city for biosolid removal and should also have to foot the bill for their portion of the Savannah St facility. They shouldnt be able to use the facility for 40 years and then just walk away once it needs replacement. Also, its been 7 months since WRUA was supposed to flip the switch and magically start treating their own WW...according to their bond documents and their completely unfeasible schedule. Those water bills in Rankin County will be real interesting when they are still paying Jackson, not treating their sewage yet and the full bond payments kick in Jan. 1.

Anonymous said...

I will believe the free water program will end when it ends. Free water has propelled Lumbo to the pinnacle he now sits upon.

Anonymous said...

Nothing will change.

There will be nothing but excuses from Jackson.

Follow the Money to Chowke's House said...

And just like that, the Siemens settlement money went poooooof. It was only a perception of a settlement.

Anonymous said...

Rankin County was more than likely the only ones who actually paid anything! Jackson’s plant needs more money injected into (just in maintenance) than the cost of what good leadership spent on the new Treatment facility in Rankin.

Anonymous said...

The Siemens money went to pay back the city accounts that they borrowed from to keep the water department afloat. They took from accounts that their bond holders required to be at certain levels. Remember when the city’s bond rating decreased? It was because they took from those accounts. So there isn’t Siemens money available.

Anonymous said...

3:00 PM:
conveniently funneled into someone's pocket, i'm betting

Doty Got Played... said...

"The program allows current customers to pay their monthly bill and $10 per month until either the balance is paid or 24 months expires, whichever comes first."

Let's see...If I owe $2200 in arrears and begin paying it back at the rate of $10 per month, at the end of 24 months I will have paid $240 and my $2200 debt is satisfied. I've heard Sally Doty on the radio and thought she had better sense than to fall for this! I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

According to the Clarion Ledger 14,000 of Jackson's 43,000 water customers are "stranded" (not getting a bill) So 1/3 are not billed?

Anonymous said...

Is it not strange that the people who cannot connect to the Internet managed to leave a comment on this website? How are they reading this? They must have mind control.

Anonymous said...

@10:17 Is that it? I tried, but that didn't work. Please advise

Krusatyr said...

Contrast and Compare

1. Jackson Sewer and Water System.

2. Privies and Rain Barrels System.

Both are sh!t holes with undependable water.

One is a hundred million in payment arrears,
the other is payment free for all rears.

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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.

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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.

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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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