$547,000 and CountingBy ANTHONY WARREN,
Less than two months into the project, Siemens has corrected some 5,400 water bills and $547,000 in back usage fees, according to Public Works Director Bob Miller.
Siemens was brought back on in late April to help the city resolve lingering problems with the city’s water/sewer billing system.
To date, “5,366 accounts been resolved (and) 3,867 have begun making payments,” Miller said. "We're making these things happen."
In all, more than 20,100 bills were "stranded," with some customers not receiving statements for a year or longer.
Of the roughly $4.6 million that has been billed, $546,595 has been collected.
Those funds go into Jackson’s water and sewer enterprise fund and can be used solely for water/sewer operations and upgrades.
The announcement is a promising sign for the city, which earlier this year had to ask the one-percent oversight commission for nearly $7 million to keep its water system afloat.
As funds come in, Miller said the city will be able to tackle more water and sewer infrastructure issues.
The public works director outlined Jackson’s water and sewer needs at the city council’s June 18 work session.
“On sewer, we have places where lines are collapsed … 50 we have confirmed and another 40 where we’ll have to TV the line,” he said.
TV-ing lines occur when crews run a camera through sewer mains to evaluate conditions.
As for water problems, there are 82 water line breaks outstanding, with the city averaging between two and three new ones each day.
Complicating matters, the city has severe shortages in the sewer and water maintenance departments. “I have 35 vacancies in sewer. Twenty-five in water,” Miller said. “We’re down to two crews in the sewer (maintenance division) and three in water.”
Today, the council is expected to vote on awarding term bids to make some of the repairs.
The council meets at 6 p.m., tonight, at Jackson City Hall.