Two Birmingham Water Works employees said they warned management of potential billing problems for months, according to a report from Birmingham TV's WBRC.
The employees chose to remain anonymous, but one claimed to be one of the three billing department employees fired on December 1, 2021. She said the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) accused her of falsifying documents, but she denies that the allegations were true.
Instead, she said she was intentionally given unclear instructions from the managers whose orders she was following.
The former billing department employee said this went on for over two years, and she was not surprised when billing issues ensued earlier in 2022.
According to media reports, thousands of customers didn't receive bills for months, only to receive much larger or multiple bills, all at once.
The bills were also not based on accurate meter readings but estimations based on previous months. Birmingham Water Works blamed a lack of meter readers and insufficient staffing for the issue.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin had a few things to say about the billing issues at the Water Works at the end of August.
Woodfin tweeted on August 25 that complaints about the BWWB were rampant.
Birmingham Water Works is one of the most common complaints that come into City Hall.— Randall Woodfin (@randallwoodfin) August 25, 2022
On August 31, Woodfin went live on Facebook to demand that the BWWB step out of the way and allow the general manager to fix the billing issues.
That same day, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) said on Rightside Radio that he frequently received constituent complaints regarding the BWWB and suggested action by the legislature if the utility couldn't immediately improve.
The former billing department employee told WBRC that the Water Works lacks checks and balances and communication. She said she is concerned for the city of Birmingham.
A reporter from WBRC claimed to have obtained copies of emails from another former Water Works employee to managers, including General Manager Michael Johnson.
The report said that the emails allege the Water Works employees were asked to change dates to ensure that billing is 24 to 37 days despite knowing that all the meters were not being read.
WBRC received a statement from the Water Works public relations manager, Rick Jackson, which said that the Water Works refrains from discussing personnel matters and that processes must be followed to adjust billing dates to reconcile accounts based on actual meter ratings.
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