About 50,000 New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board customers -- more than one-third of the utility's accounts -- aren't up-to-date on their bills because of problems ranging from inaccurate water meter readings to disputed accounts to issues with the board's billing software, S&WB interim director Jade Brown Russell said Tuesday.
The result, according to WWL-TV? Projects might be shelved because they can't be funded, it was revealed Tuesday at the board's monthly finance and administration committee meeting.
“Projects that are not absolute priorities are going to be held back," Russell said.
In November, the board temporarily stopped water shutoffs for delinquent accounts because of billing disputes. Instead of ending that moratorium in March, it was extended into June.
"People thought once the moratorium started, everyone could not pay, not just people under dispute,” Russell said.
While often overshadowed by more immediate crises such as last summer's flooding and the shortcomings with the drainage system it revealed, the billing problems have proved to be a persistent headache for the S&WB.
Some of the trouble has been the result of incorrect estimates or misread meters that caused bills to balloon, while problems with the billing system itself led to some customers being billed multiple times in the same month.