IG: Sewerage and Water Board failed to collect millions in unpaid bills

IG: Sewerage and Water Board failed to collect millions in unpaid bills

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A newly released New Orleans Inspector General report claims the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board failed to collect millions of dollars in sanitation fees from customers.

According to the report from Inspector General Ed Quatreveaux's office, the sewerage and water board issued $42 million dollars in customer bills in 2014.

The report says the City of New Orleans did not instruct the utility to terminate service to customers with outstanding balances. The total was more than $7 million in delinquent sanitation fees in 2014.

This report is a follow-up to a 2013 audit concerning similar issues. This report set out to determine whether the City and the Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) implemented OIG recommendations from its 2013 report.

An inspector general report in 2013 found similar issues, with more than $8.5 million in uncollected sanitation fees.

In the original report, auditors also found that the city did not effectively review adjustments to sanitation fees to determine whether they were valid. The City issued $1.4 million in sanitation adjustments in 2014 but still lacked effective controls for fraud and error.

"The amount of uncollected sanitation fees decreased from $8.5 million to $7 million between 2011 and 2014," Inspector General Quatrevaux said in a prepared statement, "But the City failed to exercise its authority to shut off water for non-payment of fees or to improve controls over the issuance of fee adjustments totaling $1.4 million."

The report comes just hours after the Sewerage and Water Board announced it would launch a new billing system in October.

It will replace the one used for the past three decades.

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