DeKalb verifies and mails 3,500 more withheld water bills

Thousands of DeKalb residents will soon receive water bills for the first time in months as county officials say they’ve confirmed the accuracy of questionable accounts.

DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond announced Wednesday that the county is mailing 3,500 more water bills this week from the July and August billing period. In all, the county has now released 16,500 of 37,000 water bills that were withheld since October.

Before held bills are sent, they receive a thorough review, according to the county government. Field technicians conduct in-person verifications when there are questions about meter readings or devices, and the county’s Finance Department confirms data accuracy from the meter to the billing system.

“We have made significant progress,” Thurmond said in a statement. “The development and utilization of an Independent Verification Process (IVP) has expedited our review of customer accounts, water consumption and billing data.”

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond addresses the audience about high water bills during a meeting at Rehoboth Baptist Church in Tucker on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thurmond has said his immediate goal is to restore all of the county’s 194,000 water customers to regular billing. Bills aren’t being mailed for prior billing periods, which remain under review.

RELATED: How to dispute high water bills in DeKalb

The county government outlined its verification process Wednesday:

Field technicians read a meter’s water consumption, verify the meter is functioning property and check that meter attributes match the account setup when there are concerns that billing inaccuracies originate with the meter itself.

Once field verification is complete, in-person meter readings are compared to those stored in the county’s computers. Billing calculations and printed bills are reviewed before they’re sent.

When necessary, inaccurate water meters are replaced and computer data are corrected. Bills over $500 are set aside for extra vetting.

All of the bills being sent are based on actual water consumption, and no bills are estimated, according to the county. The verification process coordinates staff from the the governments watershed, IT and finance departments.

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