S&WB to discuss billing issues, infrastructure work at City Council special meeting

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NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans City Council is holding a special meeting with the Sewerage and Water Board this morning.

At the top of a long list of issues to be discussed are the S&WB’s ongoing billing issues.

In September, we learned that roughly 5,000 customers were billed twice in the same time period. The department says the problem will be fixed and blamed a “shortage of meter-reading personnel and a high turnover rate in the department.”

When there’s no meter-reader available, the S&WB relies on estimated meter readings to bill customers. In August, the S&WB used estimates for billing, then had meter readers go out to the same customers’ houses and get a direct reading from the meter, which resulted in customers getting billed for both.

The council will also get an update on system operations during and after hurricane season.

The board has faced a lot of criticism since the August flooding event. At last check, New Orleans was at 95 percent pumping capacity, as long as the city’s power stays on. The board has also been actively working to clean out storm drains.

Officials will also go over the latest on the St. Claude Drainage project, which is expected to include subsurface drainage improvements, installation of green infrastructure, and overlay and installation of ADA compliant curb ramps.

That construction is set to start in January of 2018. It should wrap up by the end of that year.

The council plans on adopting property taxes for the 2018 budget today as well.