November 23, 2020

$4,000 for water? Jackson residents sue city over excessive bills

Residents in Mississippi’s capital have filed a federal lawsuit against the city over excessive water bills.

The lawsuit filed last week said the city of Jackson provided inaccurate or no bills and faulty water meters, the Clarion Ledger reported.

The Rev. Clifton Jackson, one of the plaintiffs, said he received a nearly $4,000 water bill in June after not getting one for several years. Jackson’s bill said about $60 was for May to June, and listed $3,960 for outstanding charges.

The lawsuit did not specify the amount for the water bills received by the other plaintiffs, William and Helen Noel.

The couple said in the lawsuit that they applied for a credit adjustment after hiring a plumber to fix a broken pipe on their property last year. They allege the city denied their request by citing a lack of specifics about the work and saying the couple did not provide their phone number. The couple denies both claims.

Meagan Gosa, a spokesperson for Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, said she won’t comment on the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.

Jackson residents have complained about excessive water bills for the past three years, and the city has previously been sued over water billing issues. The recent lawsuit seeks several things, including class action status for all residents affected by excessive bills and unspecified compensatory damages.

The city sued and reached a settlement in February with Siemens Industry Inc., a company that was hired to update Jackson’s water infrastructure. That company has agreed to pay back the nearly $90 million it received for the contract.

A bill that would have allowed the city to provide relief for residents by establishing flexible payment plans for water and sewer bills was vetoed by Gov. Tate Reeves this year.