Jackson City Council approves new appeal process for water customers

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The Jackson City Council meeting covered a wide range of hot topics tonight including the water bill crisis.

City Council members spent nearly half an hour discussing new ways to help customers with their water bills.

“Do not allow the citizens not to have water in their community,” Councilman Kenneth Stokes urged. 

As what many call the “water billing crisis” in Jackson, members on the council and Mayor want to add a third party contractor to meet with citizens who hear appeals and check accountability on their billing issues. 

“Presently we have a city attorney’s office hearing it,” Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba stated. “If there was some legal claim the city attorney’s office would have to be both witness and on the city’s behalf. So we’re providing another due process to our constituents.”

For the Department of Public Works and Council Members who favor the ordinance this could speed up the process for customers to schedule an unbiased hearing to get their billing issues solved. 

“If somebody comes to the Metro Center and they’re not satisfied with the result they then walkout with an appointment with a hearing officer,” Director Bob Miller said.  

“It now professionalizes it and created a structure where we know if someone doesn’t like what happens in the water billing department it’s not coming to the city attorney’s office,” Councilman Melvin Priestler said. “For the next step it’s coming to an independent arbiter.”

For members like Councilman Stokes the city’s focus should shift more towards cracking down on Siemens and assure no one’s water is shutoff until their lawsuit is settled. 

“They had water before Siemens,” Councilman Stokes argued. “Since Siemens this has happened. Poor people especially are going to suffer the most and all they had was the appeal process. Now we’re coming up with another appeal process.”

In regards to Jackson’s legal battle with Siemens Mayor Lumumba did release a statement saying “The city is pursuing litigation on a bad contract, or whether it be corruption within our own departments or citizens knowingly stealing water.” 

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