But he acknowledged it will take two or three years to completely fix the problem by replacing meters countywide, upgrade computer systems and improve customer service. He said the number of calls to customer service representatives has declined by 55 percent since last fall.
“These problems did not appear overnight. It will take persistence over a period of time to unravel,” Thurmond said. “We are continuing to make significant steps in the right direction.”
But several residents struggling with high water and sewer charges said they're find themselves frustrated as they try to resolve their problems.
Dan Daugherty, who lives near Northlake Mall, said he can’t even find water meters at his condo complex, and customer service representatives were unhelpful.
“We’re not seeing any satisfaction, and we just give up,” he told Thurmond.
Many people whose bills have been withheld by the county worry that they'll face substantial cumulative charges when they do eventually receive a correct water bill, said Linda Dacey-Caban of Decatur.
“When we do get a bill, how do you expect people to pay these monstrosity bills?” asked Dacey-Caban, who hasn’t been billed since November.
Thurmond said customers won’t be penalized, and payment plans without late fees will be offered when requested.
He said the county is improving.
The number of residents disputing their accounts has declined by nearly 70 percent since November, from 1,993 to 621.
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