DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - For nearly two years, thousands of DeKalb County residents have voiced their frustrations and concerns over the county's water billing crisis. Now, the county's new Chief Executive Officer, Michael Thurmond, insists an overhaul of the Watershed Management Department operations will provide some solutions.
"It's not an easy fix and it's not going to be a quick fix because there is no one cause for inaccurate bills in DeKalb County. There's no one person or issue that can be blamed," Thurmond told County Commissioners Thursday.
The CEO cited a number of problems that led to the billing crisis including an over-reliance on estimated billing, poor calculations on manual meter reading, defective, missing or improperly installed meters and even political and administrative mismanagement over the years.
"I want to offer my sincere apologies to the citizens of DeKalb County who were negatively impacted by this billing problem. It's unacceptable and there are no excuses, but I take full responsibility for executing a solution. Over the next 90 days we're going to be working to improve accuracy on the bills customer service and rebuilding trust."
The goal is to do away with exorbitantly high bills, according to Thurman. He told reporters those notoriously high bills that thousands of customers have complained about will be set aside and reviewed.
"I consider those bills viruses that have to be quarantined while we figure out exactly how those bills were calculated. We want to figure out what has to be done to keep that from happening again," Thurmond said.
Thurmond said the county will start sending accurate bills for the current pay cycles in the next 90 days.
"Then, over the next couple of years, will be upgrading the meters, offering better training to meter readers and increasing the staffing in that department. There's a lot of work to be done but it's going to get done. It's just going to take time," said Thurmond, who is in his second month on the job.