NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A motion has been filed by New Orleans City Council President JP Morrell, stating efforts to get the Sewerage and Water Board to comply with ordinances adopted by the City Council in regard to billing practices.

On Thursday (April 20), the city council approved regulations that would assist SWBNO customers with their higher-than-average billing issues. The ordinance states if the Sewerage and Water Board does not bill a customer for three or more consecutive billing cycles then it forfeits the right to collect payments for the cycles.

The board will also be required to provide customers with a timestamped note following meter readings. 

After the ordinance passed through the SWBNO Billing Advisory Committee and a council vote, the Sewerage and Water Board announced that they will not comply with the operational changes. They later released the following statement:

“While we agree with most of the new procedures, our Leadership Team expressed to the City Council some concerns regarding two of the new requirements that would negatively impact revenue and more importantly pose safety challenges to our employees, especially our meter reading team. Adding costly steps to stretched resources and a laborious process goes contrary to what we are working hard towards, which is full automation of the billing process,” said the Sewerage and Water Board.  

Morrell expressed his disappointment saying that the public utility which relies on the law to get ratepayers to pay them, has decided to disregard the law when it is not convenient to them.

“This City Council and State Legislature worked with SWBNO for months to get billing practices accurate. Every time SWBNO failed to get their way, they took their ball and went home. In the last several weeks, when we passed the most recent round of billing amendments, which included items that SWBNO requested, SWBNO did not attempt to communicate its qualms with the new regulations.  This is unacceptable.”

A series of resolutions will be filed to get the Sewerage and Water Board to:

  • Compel them to comply with the law
  • To bring greater transparency and scrutiny to their practices
  • To assess which other laws the utility is choosing not to follow

“No one is above the law. Especially not an entity that is encharged with bringing water into the homes of New Orleanians,” said Council President Morrell.

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