County budgets $4M to address billing and blight issues - CBS46 News

County budgets $4M to address billing and blight issues

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL
DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

DeKalb County resident Elissa Haynes uses water sparingly these days after receiving a bill for $491. CBS46 checked her home water meter on Wednesday, but did not identify a noticeable problem.

“It’s not physically possible that I could be using 12,700 gallons of water,” Haynes said.

And with consumption like that, CBS46 was surprised to see that Haynes lives in a modest 1,300 square foot single story home with only one other person.

“What really needs to happen is they need to wipe the slate clean,” Haynes said.

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond made no promises of wiping the slate clean, but did obtain $1.5 million in this year’s budget to address the water billing crisis, which is impacting thousands of residents.

“Obviously it will help with training and additional staff so that we can get with our consumers who’ve been negatively impacted to if necessary negotiate the bills, resolve them, but more importantly create a more professional system of service,” Thurmond said.

What else does the CEO hope to do with the funding in this year’s budget?

“Improve meter accuracy, improve the accuracy in installing the meters, customer service, billing, you name it we can do a better job and we will do a better job,” Thurmond said.

It’s not the only problem which Thurmond hopes to solve as the newest leader of a county mired in controversy.

“We have a major problem with commercial and residential blight particularly in S. DeKalb with debris and trash and we have not cleaned our gutters in more than five years,” Thurmond said.

Thurmond also obtained more than $2.5 million in the budget to hire a street sweeper to make sure debris is off the roadways.  Eventually, he hopes to clean up rundown apartment complexes and other eyesores.

“It’s disturbing,” Haynes said.

As for Haynes, she is hopeful that the county’s troubles will be resolved sooner than later.  But she’ll believe it when she sees it.

“Any person can get in front of an audience and say we are going to do something right now, until something is done right now it doesn’t really matter,” Haynes said.

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