The New Orleans Sewerage & Board continues to be a dumpster fire. It has been having issues with billing customers. For the past couple of years, it has had issues with overbilling customers.
Now that the agency is issuing refunds, another issue has popped up. It appears the agency is shortchanging customers.
From The Advocate:
Most customers who opened their Sewerage & Water Board bills to find refunds in recent months likely breathed a sigh of relief.
After all, New Orleans residents have been grappling with incorrect bills from the public utility for nearly two years, so getting a credit after being overcharged would seem like an improvement, right?
It turns out that in tens of thousands of cases, the agency may have shortchanged the refund amounts.
More than 26,000 customers have received at least one bill that shows negative water usage since October 2016, the S&WB’s way of correcting a previous bill that charged customer[s] for more water than they actually used.
But the process of correctly crediting those accounts, which requires S&WB employees to manually calculate the amount owed, has left many of those customers still owed money.
It’s very tempting to write this off as just incompetence. But with the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board, we are beyond incompetence. The most likely explanation is corruption.
This is an agency that has been to hire more staffers than allowed by law. Last year, the New Orleans Inspector General called the agency “the worst he’s ever seen.” At this point, New Orleans is better off privatizing or even abolishing the agency.
Jeffrey Sallet, who served as the director of the FBI in New Orleans, until last year said public corruption in Louisiana “can’t get much worse.” He’s right. The FBI and state authorities should take a real hard look at the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board. Incompetence surely can’t explain disaster after disaster.