Toledo water customers will soon pay higher rates to finance upgrades to the water treatment plant.
Councilwoman Lindsay Webb (D-Toledo) believes water customers should get better service in return. Webb believes the best way to ensure that is to write new laws for the city to follow.
Water customers go downtown sometimes to pay their bills and sometimes to complain about service.
Veronica Rivera has had complaints about a service cut-off problem, telling 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "In the winter time, I want my water turned off because the meter is broken and nobody answers."
Customers feel the pinch because their water rates will go up to pay for $350-million in upgrades to the water treatment plant.
Councilwoman Webb insists customers deserve better service, in return. "More needs to be done in the area of customer service, in the area of transparency and in the area of fair dealing with out customers," she told 13abc.
Webb is proposing three changes to the city law to improve water service to water customers who will now pay higher water rates.
One change is a 14-point Bill of Rights which includes notice before shutting off water... a grace period to pay the bill... even the right to have your complaint investigated.
Webb admits, "It's obvious stuff but no where in the Toledo Municipal Code is that written down."
13abc attempted to speak with the head of the Department of Public Utilities (DPU). He did not want to go on camera but he's looked over the list and believes the department is already performing most of the 14 points in the Bill of Rights. The city's law department is also looking over the various measures to make sure that they are legal.
For instance, another measure Webb wants to pass would allow renters to deduct water bill charges from their rent... *if the landlord* refuses to pay the water bill. It's a law she copied from Cincinnati, but Toledo could challenge it as illegal.
And Webb wants to establish an impartial appeals board. Right now, customers appeal to the DPU commissioner and director, a set-up councilman Mike Craig (D-Toledo) insists is stacked in DPU's favor. He says, "If all utility people are making the decision whether you were treated fairly or not, it's probably always going to turn in their (DPU's) favor."
Webb is introducing these three measures to council for consideration but a vote is not expected for a couple weeks.
But customers are complaining of bad service and Webb believes, if customers are being forced to pay more, Department of Public Utilities should be forced to provide better service.