Audit calls for broad changes to fix high DeKalb water bills

Toby Jennings of Lithonia holds her current water bill of $2009.49 while DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond updates residents about the depth of the county's remaining water billing problems during his third public update on June 29. Curtis Compton/



An outside review of DeKalb County's problem with excessively high water bills comes to the conclusion that the government needs to make changes on multiple fronts, from upgrading technology to improving oversight.

The 127-page, $275,000 audit provides many recommendations for fixing the county's long-running problem with inaccurate water bills. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained the draft audit, prepared by financial services firm KPMG, on Wednesday through Georgia's Open Records Act.

Homeowners received incorrect bills for thousands of dollars.

The audit says the county should overhaul its management structure, eliminate reliance on paper, replace old water meters, upgrade computer billing systems and better train employees.

“Creating meaningful change among the county’s water metering and billing process (will) require time and focus by the county,” according to the audit. “Establishing a governance framework and developing detailed action plan for implementing each recommendation will provide a strong foundation.”

The government was already planning to implement some of the audit's recommendations, such as replacing aging water meters and computer billing systems.

DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond's administration will review the audit's recommendations and provide a response in the coming weeks.

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