June 13, 2024

Utility, Cable, Telecommunications and Technology Committee, Joseph I. Giarrusso

City Council Announces RFP for Accounting Firm to Oversee SWBNO Billing Complaints

City Council Announces RFP for Accounting Firm to Oversee SWBNO Billing Complaints

NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans City Council, after collaborating with Mayor
Cantrell and the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO), announces
the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire an independent accounting firm
to oversee and handle SWBNO’s billing process and billing complaints for the next 12
to 18 months.
For nearly eight years, residents have complained about wildly inaccurate SWBNO
bills and undue delays having their billing problems promptly and properly resolved.
In 2022, the Council passed reforms to SWBNO’s appeal process. Last year, the
Council established a special appeal process for those unsatisfied with SWBNO’s
longstanding investigation mechanism. And yet, billing issues persist. This problem
requires a dedicated solution.
With the Mayor’s approval, the Council will fund about $3.4 million to an outside
accounting firm to work with SWBNO’s meter-reading strike team, categorize bills
correctly, ensure bills are properly sent, and fix bills timely if there is a problem.
While SWBNO will issue the RFP in the next 60 days, the utility will report as part of
its quarterly obligations to the Council on progress made by the outside accountant.
“Billing is the root cause of SWBNO’s credibility issue,” said District A
Councilmember Joe Giarrusso. “For years, residents have complained not only
about bad bills but how long it took to get those addressed. These billing issues must
be fixed before SWBNO fully implements its smart meter program so the system is
accurate. I am grateful the Council, Mayor Cantrell, and SWBNO leadership are on
the same page to correct this problem that has plagued ratepayers for too long.”
“Residents in District B continue to send my office daily complaints about their high
and inaccurate water bills,” said District B Councilmember Lesli Harris. “The City
Council has been taking steps to provide more accountability to the SWBNO,
including requiring quarterly billing and infrastructure reporting, door hangers for
meter reading, and the Council Appeals Process. As an added layer of protection for
ratepayers, we are now bringing in additional resources to assist SWBNO in
addressing billing disputes. This step is critical to ensuring that billing accuracy is
prioritized while the SWBNO finishes installing smart meters to all commercial and
residential customers.”
"The release of this Request for Proposal marks a crucial step toward resolving the
long-standing billing issues faced by our residents," said District C Councilmember
Freddie King III. "Ensuring accurate billing is fundamental to restoring trust in the
Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans. I am committed to working closely with
the Mayor and the SWBNO to oversee this process and provide our community with
the reliable services they deserve."
“The data provided by the Sewerage and Water Board clearly highlights the critical
importance of implementing accounting oversight. With 140,346 total accounts and
over $57 million in past due payments, it is evident that there is a pressing need for
enhanced monitoring and control,” said District D Councilmember Eugene Green.
“By introducing additional oversight to the billing processing system, SWBNO can
better ensure that funds are allocated appropriately and efficiently to address the
infrastructure issues in our city. This proactive action will not only help to resolve
outstanding financial obligations but also contribute significantly to the overall
development and improvement of our community."
“As the Councilman for District E, I am proud to join my Council colleagues and
Mayor Cantrell in addressing the Sewerage and Water Board billing issues,” said
District E Councilmember Oliver Thomas. “The citizens of our city have long
deserved a better system. As a result, I have worked with our state legislative
partners this session to develop policies to assist in this process. This a step in the
right direction and will benefit all of our residents.”
“Improving SWBNO operations must begin with finally fixing the ongoing billing
issues that plague residents and erode confidence in the agency,” said Council
President Helena Moreno. “We on the Council have long-believed a credible,
independent review must be done to address process and technology issues at the
root of the billing failures. This commitment is a substantial step in the right
“The New Orleans City Council is taking a decisive step towards addressing the
longstanding billing issues faced by our residents. By issuing this RFP, we can begin
to address this process by hiring an independent accounting firm to thoroughly
oversee and address billing complaints from SWBNO customers," said Council Vice
President JP Morrell. "Billing deficiencies have caused significant stress and
financial burdens for many residents, undermining their trust in the system. With
the steps being taken in this RFP, we are optimistic that this move will lead to
positive changes for customers. Our goal should always be to provide the residents of
New Orleans with the reliable and fair service they deserve.”
Media Contact:
Claire Byun
Office of City Council District A Joseph I. Giarrusso, III

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