Despite warnings, Atlanta delays water shutoffs for overdue accounts

After weeks of warning that the city will be getting tough on delinquent accounts, not a single Atlanta homeowner has seen their water shut off for failure to pay.

Some Atlanta City Council members are now complaining, telling FOX 5's Morse Diggs that Atlanta must be run like a business.

Even with the flurry customers coming down to Atlanta City Hall to make arrangements for their water bills, the number still remains at around 21,000 delinquent accounts across the city. 

Over a period of 12 years, the city never did any residential shut-offs.

Officials estimate the amount of money owned to the city is 10s of millions of dollars.

Commissioner Mikita Browning got some skeptical looks from council members because they heard her promise to get tough with customers and begin enforcement once the calendar rolled to January.

But speaking to the City Council, Browning said her office "had to hit a little bit of a pause" due to hundreds of people entering the city's F.L.O.A.T. program, which ended when the year started.

Paying customers were not happy to hear that thousands still remain on the failure to pay shutoff list.

"I feel like everyone should be help accountable and be responsible to pay their utilities because it's not fair to the next person who might have been in a financial hardship," on Atlanta resident told FOX 5.

The unofficial free water practice has gone on so long that there are millions Atlanta will have to write off as simple uncollectible. Watershed officials estimate the number to be around $18 million.

While council members can express frustration about the pace over the enforcement about these overdue bills, that's essentially all they can do.

It's up to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Commissioner Browning to accelerate the activity.