Monday, March 5, 2012
The Jackson Public Works Department has irritated several Jacksonians in recent weeks by shutting off water to residences on weekends and just before holidays.
When water is shut off on weekends, residents can't get it turned back on until Monday. Council President Frank Bluntson said a resident called him Saturday complaining about her water being cut off. She was hosting a birthday party for her son that day.
Public Works director Dan Gaillet said it is the department's policy to shut off water for residences with delinquent bills Monday through Thursday and never the day before a holiday, so that residents can pay to have their service turned back on the next day.
"We've started looking at the folks that owe more than $500 and have not paid in several months to years, and (we) have gotten very aggressive about it," Gaillet said. "But we've had the same concerns, that if somebody is trying to make good on those bills on a weekend, they're just not able to."
Bluntson said that it won't hurt anyone to wait until Monday to cut the service off, especially if the bill has not been paid in months.
Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber said the city needs to either update the online payment software or remove the option all together.
"What's the purpose of being able to pay online at 11:40, and then at 12:00, which is the cutoff date, the water still gets turned off the next day? That makes no sense," Yarber said. "That kind of software is antiquated at best. We might as well just take it offline and let people continue to do what I did when I was 4: going to the water department with my momma to pay the bill. I'm getting lots of calls about that kind of stuff."
Gaillet said the Public Works Department is working on updating the online bill-pay software.
"It's going to take us a little while to get through it, but we do have a very antiquated billing system," he said. "That's one of our priorities, to get that updated," he said.
The Public Works Department is reviewing its budget and expenses for the next year. Gaillet said the review has to be done every year to assure revenues and expenses match.
"For those years when it has not (matched), then we either have to look at raising rates, which is obviously the last thing we want to do, or we look at our expenses. We look at cutting where we can to get things back in line," Gaillet said.
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