Atlanta City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Keisha Lance Bottoms failed to pay her water bills in full for months between 2010 and 2017, according to documents obtained by Channel 2 Action News.
Bottoms, who earns $60,300 a year as a councilmember and until Friday was employed by the Atlanta Fulton Recreation Authority as executive director for $135,000 annually, consistently carried an “overdue” balance for the past eight years, according to Bottom’s billing history.
Bottoms, who did not return calls from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the report, did not deny the findings, but told Channel 2 reporter Richard Belcher that she paid more than the amount due on several occasions and that at least one of the overdue bills was actually a billing dispute with the city’s Department of Watershed Management.
Bottom said if her water should have been cut off, “so be it because I don’t want anybody to think that I am doing something out of the ordinary or that I am getting special treatment because I’m not.”
Atlanta has some of the highest water and sewer bills in the nation, the Department of Watershed Management says, and the city offered an amnesty program in March that let errant customers catch up on overdue bills without facing penalties. About 13 percent of single families homes in Atlanta carry a balance every month, the department said.
“Accounts can carry a balance for any number of reasons, but as long as the account is active and the account owner is making payments, the Department of Watershed Management will not disconnect water service,” the department said in a statement.
Bottoms has owed the Department of Watershed Management as much as $1,300 after receiving a bill for around $880 in November of last year. Bottoms told Belcher that she disputed that bill and the eventual cost was reduced.
Bottoms, who has been on the council since 2010, is one of nine major candidates hoping to succeed Mayor Kasim Reed this November as the city's next leader. Bottoms raised $81,154 in the most recent fundraising period between Feb. 1 and March 31 and has a total fundraising haul of $459,754.
A Channel 2 poll in March found Bottoms in third place at 8.6 percent behind leader City Councilwoman Mary Norwood and second place candidate state Sen. Vincent Fort.