The city of Atlanta could soon give more than $737,000 in refunds to 541 customers who were overcharged on their water bills. But the Atlanta City Council will have to sign off before customers who were overbilled the most can be paid back.
Council members will decide next week whether to give individual refunds of more than $5,000 to 36 customers. The rest of the overbilled amount will automatically be paid back to customers by the city and doesn’t need council approval. Councilmember Howard Shook heads the city’s utilities committee.
“It’s a sign of while the department is in no danger of becoming perfect, things are definitely moving in a better direction. I wish it was faster, I wish the mistakes hadn’t occurred, but the best we can do as councilmembers is apply pressure to make sure these problems are rectified as quickly as possible.”
Mohamed Balla is Senior Director of Financial Administration with the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management.
“What we want to tell customers is that the city has worked extensively to address their concerns to look into the meter infrastructure, and to assure them that the meters are billing them accurately.”
The effort comes after a system-wide audit which started in 2011 and reviewed thousands of automated meters. Prior to the audit, a number of customers complained about skyrocketing bills. Some were overbilled by as much as $25,000. During the audit, the city discovered some registers which were the wrong size for the meters they were placed on and customers whose usage was mixed up with someone else nearby. Since then, the department says it’s worked to fix the issues and has made a number of additional changes. If the plan is approved, the department says it plans to notify affected customers by mail. Customers will also be able to go online to check if they’re getting a refund.