01.07.20 – Mayor Gardner statement about changes to the Water & Sewer Bills

01.07.20 – Mayor Gardner statement about changes to the Water & Sewer Bills

The purpose of this statement is to addressed concerns from the residents about changes to the Prichard Water Works & Sewer Board (PWW&SB) billing processes

  • Historically, PWW&SB has billed the residents of Prichard for the following: (a) residential water, (b) residential sewer, and (c) municipal services. Prior to December 2019, PWW&SB has billed the residents for all three services at the same time in a single bill. Now, PWW&SB is sending the residents of Prichard two bills. The first bill contains the expenses for residential water and sewer. The second bill contains the expenses for municipal service fees.
  • We do not know why PWW&SB decided to make this change without discussing it with the City of Prichard. However, to be clear, the municipal service fee is not a new expense. It is the same monthly expense that was previously on the bill that also included residential water and sewer. 

16 December 2019

  • The Mayor’s Office received a flood of citizen complaints about changes to the PWW&SB billing processes. The residents of Prichard received two bills from the PWW&SB. The first bill contained the expenses for residential water and sewer. The second bill contained the expenses for municipal service fees.
  • The bill for municipal service fees had an invoice date/due date of 12 December; it also contained a “disconnection date” of 17 December 2019. (Note: PWW&SB made these changes to the billing process without informing Mayor Gardner, the City of Prichard, or the citizens.)

23 December 2019

  • The Mayor visited the PWW&SB. He listened to citizen concerns, explained the changes to the billing processes, and held a press conference in the PWW&SB parking lot. During the visit, a representative from PWW&SB hand-delivered a written statement to the Mayor and members of the local media.  (Note: The letter is contained in Reference (a). It was neither dated nor signed.)

31 December 2019

  • The Mayor sent a letter to the members of the City Council. In the communication, he explained the following: (a) the PWW&SB is required to communicate with the City of Prichard prior to making any changes to the billing process or the municipal services processing fees; and, (b) the PWW&SB declined an invitation to meet with the Mayor to discuss unresolved issues and opportunities to partner on future projects.  
  • The Mayor also submitted a request to the City Council to answer two PWW&SB questions by 15 January 2020. The questions are as follows: (a) what are the selection criteria and tentative due date for replacing the members of the PWW&SB whose terms have expired; and (b) what is the process that the PWW&SB uses to inform the Mayor, City of Prichard, and/or the residents of any changes (e.g., billing, process changes, etc.)?