water billing & collections - december 2023
Water Billing & Collections
Released: December 2023
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We undertook this audit because the Department of Watershed Management has not consistently enforced collections. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the department suspended termination of water service for nonpayment. City Council expressed concerns about collections and the amount of uncollectible debt the department has not yet written off..
Our recommendations to the Commissioner of Watershed is to develop and publish a delinquency policy on the website; enforce water service termination for nonpayment according to the delinquency policy; design and implement a more effective collection strategy; write off uncollectible debt in accordance with law and policy; hire enough staff to maintain or replace infrastructure and consider using a contractor for backlog of escalated requests; implement an A-bill adjustment policy and procedure with thresholds review thresholds and restrict use of A-bills to billing and CAST (Customer Assurance and Satisfaction Team) teams; develop, document, and maintain up to date policies and procedures for water billing and collections
- Watershed Management has not consistently enforced water shutoffs for non payment since 2010.
- As of June 2023, over 54,000 customer accounts accounted for a total delinquent balance of about $197.8 million, including $137 million for active accounts
- Watershed Management's monthly bill estimation rate is higher than industry benchmarks and has doubled since 2020.