City Roundup: Water Bill Solution for Now, Zoo Still Closed, Robberies Down

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City of Jackson officials met last week to discuss a temporary solution to Jackson's ongoing water-sewer billing problems. As the City continues to devise ways to fix its water-billing system, customers who currently do not receive bills will pay a monthly "minimum-service charge" of $63.27 for water service, officials said.

The plan is a response to ongoing complaints from customers who say they are not receiving water bills. More than 11,500 people are not receiving water bills because of faulty meter readings, Director of Public Works Bob Miller told WLBT after the Oct. 28 meeting. Those who are receiving bills continue to report exorbitant and inaccurate numbers. The City has shut off the water of many Jacksonians for non-payment.

Under the $63. flat rate plan, residents will pay about $21 for water, $21 for sewer, and $21 for trash pick-up and disposal, city officials said.

Thousands of unpaid bills have accrued since 2013, when Siemens Inc. and local subcontractors carried out botched work to upgrade the City's water-sewer system, replace its water meters and implement a new water-billing collections system, a lawsuit the City filed in June alleges. The City has not been able to collect nearly $50 million in bills, Miller told reporters earlier last month, and Jackson has suffered a total of $225 million in losses since entering into the contract with Siemens, the lawsuit states. In it, the City of Jackson accuses defendants of "massive fraud orchestrated by Siemens" and details more than 60,000 faulty water-meter installations, costing the City approximately $2 million in unpaid water bills each month.

Ward 4 Councilman De'Keither Stamps praised the flat-rate plan, which will go into effect as early as this month.

"I think that's fair," he told the Jackson Free Press in a phone call today. "We've been suggesting that for years," he continued, adding

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