Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin went live on Facebook Monday morning to tell the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) to step out of the way and let the general manager fix billing issues.
Last month, Birmingham Water Works customers were hit with a plethora of billing issues. 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.
According to AL.com, the BWWB hired Macaroy Underwood of Underwood Financial Consultants, LLC, to review the customer billing and collections from January 1, 2022, through July 31, 2022. Underwood was the general manager of Birmingham Water Works from 2005 to 2018.
Underwood's hiring was questioned by several members of the BWWB's finance committee due to ethical dilemmas surrounding hiring a former general manager.
"One of the top complaints we get for something that we're not in control of as far as day-to-day operations is the Water Works," Woodfin said.
Woodfin said he heard a teammate this morning talking to a resident about issues with her waterworks bill. He said he called her back and listened to the complaints himself.
Woodfin said the woman, who he referred to as "Ms. Prater," was out of town during 15 days of a 30-day billing window but still received a bill for $451.12.
"No sprinkler, no leaks," Woodfin said. "Got a $451.12 water bill, which is crazy when you think about it. Something's wrong with that."
Woodfin said there are many issues with the BWWB and that the board members should be focused on fixing the billing issues.
"Whether a customer stays in an apartment of one person, they shouldn't have a bill of a thousand dollars," Woodfin said.
Woodfin suggested there were more examples than just Ms. Prater.
"We need this board to get out of the way and allow the general manager and their team … to do their job," Woodfin said. "The general manager, as I understand it, has a process he would like to recommend to this board … for a more efficient billing system. This board has not allowed that."
This isn't the first complaint about the board from Woodfin. In a tweet on Thursday, Woodfin called the BWWB "unacceptable."
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