The city of Atlanta has over $120 million in uncollected water and sewer bills, and it has done very little about it.
Channel 2’s Richard Belcher was live at City Hall when the city promised a year ago that it was preparing to crack down on overdue bills. However, this has not happened yet.
The latest delay came when the city postponed a so-called amnesty program in March. Some people will still struggle to pay if the city toughens payments. Although the city knows that many people can pay, it does not bother.
Channel 2 used the State’s Open Archives Act to obtain a massive database of unpaid water and sewer bills from a year ago.
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It turns out that 14,000 customers have outstanding bills of at least $1,000 and almost a thousand accounts have outstanding bills of $20,000 or more, totaling nearly $130 million.
Howard Shook, chairman of the city’s utilities committee, thinks people should be put on plans.
“You have to put people on plans. We’re not here to throw anyone out on the streets, but we have to let people know that water isn’t free,” Shook said.
Last December, the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management told Channel 2 that the city would begin cracking down early this year. But Shook said he hasn’t seen a change even a year later.
He also said that the Department of Watershed Management has been inactive and somewhat uncooperative.
“For two months now, we have been waiting for the promised list of worst debtors, which always makes for interesting reading. Sometimes that leads to cleaning up accounts,” Shook said.
The city council hopes that changes will come after the amnesty period.
“Once we get through this period of amnesty, we want to assess the impact. Let’s hope for the positive impact of this period and our customers who are brought into compliance, ”said the city council.
But so far there has been no amnesty and certainly no major program launched to cut off people who have not paid. The current numbers are as follows:
Single-family accounts owe $87 million.
Commercial accounts owe nearly $12 million.
Multi-family accounts owe nearly $25 million.
In total, nearly $124 million in total is owed.
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