A disabled woman in Jackson, Mississippi received an $11K water bill in January. She contacted her water company and they adjust her outstanding bill down by $9,667.09 to $1,442.18. She contends that it is still too much and that she actually used very little water, due to low water pressure at her home. The WSBA then offers to put her on a payment plan for the $1,442. The interim third-party manager admits that the billing system "is a mess."
A disabled Jackson resident on a fixed income says she was "knocked off her feet" when she received an extraordinarily high bill from her water company. The total showed over $11K and that's when the realization hit her like a freight train.
$11K Water Bill Received, But Her Water isn't Working Properly
WLBT 3 News reported that 59-year-old Jacqueline Jones received her water bill in January, totaling $11,146.27, and couldn't believe it, because she used very little water in December and still struggles with "little to no water pressure" at her residence of 13 years.
The January bill can be seen below.
Jackson, MS Water Company Reduced Water Bill Down to $1.4K
That's when Jacqueline Jones went to the water department to talk about her bill with them. The water department then reduced the bill down by $9,667.09 to a January amount due of $1,442.18.
They offered to put her on a payment plan, but Jacqueline emphasizes she did not use $1.4K in water, and she cannot afford to pay the new and reduced amount either.
She still contests that this is an inaccurate bill due to problems with the billing system, even after being reduced, and she insists that she will not pay it, despite asking for help from the water company.
Should she have to pay if it is obviously incorrect?
She said to WLBT 3 News:
“I’m disabled as I stated,” said Jones. “I can’t afford to pay which I went back down there. I can’t pay that bill. I’m not gonna pay that bill. That’s not my bill.” -Jacqueline Jones (Source: WLBT 3 News)
Water Company Cites 'Problem with the Old Meter'
Jacqueline Jones also points out that she has had constant problems with the water meter systems.
She told WLBT 3 News that the water company told her she owed "because the old meter was not registering properly." Apparently, the new meters are now reading correctly.
“The old ones didn’t work, and these are reading correct,” Jones said she was told at the Water Department. “Well I tell them they can come put that water meter up. I don’t want it. I’ll go back to the mountaineer days. We’ve been doing it basically out here in south Jackson, going buying water, boiling water." -Jacqueline Jones (Source: WLBT 3 News)
Interim Third-Party Manager Agrees: 'Billing System was a Mess'
Even Third-Party Interim Water Manager Ted Henifin admits problems with the billing system, and asks for customers to "be patient as they work to fix issues with the billing system and call center."
Mississippi Today reported that Ted Henifin is "a veteran water and sewer system professional, to head the third-party management team that will steer the city’s drinking water rehabilitation over the next year." He was appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2022.
His job is to stabilize Jackson's water system while the city negotiates a solution with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the city's drinking water.
“The billing system was a mess long before I was appointed and will take some time to straighten out to the point we are billing all customers timely and accurately. We are not there yet and likely will be working through this year to get to that point.” -Ted Henifin, Third-Party Interim Water Manager (Source: WLBT 3 News)
Jackson residents like Jacqueline Jones simply can't afford to pay water bills that are in the thousands. There are clear problems with the billing system, as Ted Henifin even admits. There needs to be leniency for Mississippi residents that find obvious billing errors, and they need to be investigated in greater depth.
Most people are simply unable to pay outrageous water bills and need an advocate that can help them resolve this matter.
Please share this article on social media so everyone can be informed about this story.
Anderson, Roslyn. "$11,000 water bill shocks disabled woman who thought billing issues ended." WLBT 3 News. 1 March 2023.
Jackson, MS Water Sewer Business Administration official website.
Rozier, Alex. "Jackson meets the man tasked with fixing its water system." Mississippi Today. 8 December 2022.
WLBT 3 News on Twitter: @WLBT
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