City manager talks about unpaid water bills - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

City manager talks about unpaid water bills

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ATLANTA -

An Atlanta water manager talked to FOX 5 on Monday about a report showing unpaid water bills that total more than $80 million.

FOX 5's Morse Diggs discovered more than 40,000 customers are at least 90 days behind in paying their bills.

Mike Geisler is the new finance person at the Department of Watershed Management. He said that the unpaid bills are a result of customers falling on hard times at the same time the city hiked up rates.

Atlanta has the highest water rates in the nation, and there have been increases each year since 2004 except for 2005, Diggs reports.

Geisler said that a third of the delinquent accounts are inactive.

"We are sort of in a monopolistic situation here, where withdrawing water from customers is a bit more difficult than, say, not giving someone an oil change," said Geisler.

Geisler promised to be more aggressive in collecting unpaid bills. He said an outside agency has been hired and will begin collections in early 2013.

Delinquent customers have the chance to use payment plans, where they can pay a portion of the debt until they are caught up.

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