$19K water bill criticized - FOX 35 News Orlando

$19K water bill criticized

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ATLANTA -

A decision by Atlanta's water department officials to slap a homeowner with a bill of more than $19,000 has drawn sharp criticism.

Shelly Francis said that the bill was left by her tenant. A clerk at the water department told Francis that the bill is now her responsibility.

"I'm at risk of damaging my credit because the city wants to put a lien on my property," Francis said.

On Tuesday, Francis confronted top city officials, including her councilman, about what she called the unfair dilemma watershed management put her in.

"It's not right for the homeowner to be blindsided by this issue and I had no idea that this was even going on until I went to connect my service," Francis said.

Government watchdog William Perry of Common Cause Georgia says this complaint from one ratepayer should be a warning to others who own property in the city.

"Think about it: we are in the city with some of the highest water bills in the country. We have given a penny of our sales tax to go to continue to separate the sewers and Watershed Management seems to be watershed mismanagement because this is mismanagement at the ultimate level. How a bill can grow to $19,000 and nobody catches this until the homeowner comes back and says, ‘I want my account back,'" said Perry.

Department of Watershed Commissioner Joann Macrina said that she isn't sure how the account was allowed to reach $19,000.

"I have not researched this fully. I am waiting for information from my staff," she said.

Water officials told FOX 5's Morse Diggs that there had been moves to cut off the tenant's water, but it was never resolved.

The mayor's office said that they will work with Francis to get the situation taken care of.

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