S&WB hiring accounting firm to oversee water billing.

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  • New Orleans City Council allocates $3.5 million for an accounting firm to handle S&WB billing.
  • The firm will help with billing disputes, delinquent accounts, and customer service.

Key Elements:

The New Orleans City Council has announced a plan to provide $3.5 million for an accounting firm to oversee and handle the Sewerage and Water Board’s billing system. This move is aimed at improving customer service and billing accuracy while the utility installs new automated water meters across the city.

The S&WB’s new “smart meters” are expected to replace the error-prone billing system that relies heavily on estimated reads and outdated software. However, interim measures are needed to address billing problems until all meters are replaced.

The council’s funding will allow for the hiring of contract employees to assist the S&WB’s billing department with reviews, account management, collections, and other functions. This effort aims to reduce a backlog of delinquent accounts totaling about $80 million owed to the agency.

City Council member Joe Giarrusso mentioned that the goal is to provide quick relief for customers facing billing disputes and to ensure a clear explanation before resorting to formal appeals. The council is also working to implement new state laws mandating billing changes to improve customer satisfaction.

The S&WB will issue a request for proposals for the accounting firm within the next 60 days. The accounting firm is expected to work alongside new arbitrators who will resolve outstanding billing disputes quickly and decisively.

The utility will also be required to offer fixed billing until customers receive smart meters and must stop using estimated reads for manual readers after Jan. 1, 2025. These changes are part of a broader effort to enhance billing practices and customer experience within the S&WB.

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