DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Despite a temporary moratorium on disconnections for residents’ water in DeKalb County, plenty of residents expressed concern at a town hall meeting that their water could still be cut off.
Thursday night, CEO Lee May said his successor would extend the moratorium. The moratorium on disconnections for bills in dispute ends January 1, and residents said they were concerned what would happen after that deadline.
“I have recommended to him that he extend the moratorium,” May said to the crowd.
County officials said Thursday more than 1500 bills were in dispute, after residents complained of receiving spikes upwards of hundreds to thousands of dollars within a month.
May also promised an end to printed letters of disconnection notices, and an end to the practice by customer service representatives of suggesting a leak to blame for an exorbitant water bill spike.
“We have elderly people receiving disconnect notices, disabled people. People going through undue stress,” said Star McKenzie, who created the Facebook page Unbelievable DeKalb Water Bills, where thousands of people have shared their frustrations with their water bills.
Resident Azielee Peebles, a 95-year-old DeKalb County resident, said she has been afraid for months that her bill could be disconnected.
“They told me they were going to cut off my water. I’m an old woman, by myself, and you’re going to cut off my water,” Ms. Peebles said, who has no internet to monitor her bill.
The county must still hire a third party to investigate the cause of the numerous water bill spikes, and could do so with an emergency motion from the Board of Commissioners by the end of the year. The third party would investigate the spikes, billing practices, and inspect every one of the 180,000 water meters in DeKalb County, he said.