Ala. Attorney General asking Birmingham Water Works Board to turn over list of detailed documents

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 7:25 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office is asking the Birmingham Water Works Board to turn over a long list of detailed documents related to the utility’s potential rate increase in a move the signals increased scrutiny from the AG’s office of the largest water system in the state.

From the Attorney General’s office spokesperson Mike Lewis:

“The Attorney General’s Office Consumer Interest Division requested the Birmingham Water Works Board provide baseline budget documents to better assess the need for the utility board’s recently announced rate increase.”

The Consumer Interest Division Chief is asking that the utility provide as many of the requested documents as possible immediately, and asking for a meeting with the BWWB General Manager to go over more information related to the utility’s operations and budget planning and rate-setting processes next week.

BWWB Communications Director Rick Jackson commented, stating, “We’re cooperating with the Attorney General’s office request.”

This comes less than 24 hours after ratepayers showed up to a BWWB meeting to protest the potential 8.3% rate increase reported first by WBRC, and ahead of two BWWB meetings scheduled for the next two Wednesdays where the Board will finalize its next budget and whether to accept staff and consultant recommendations to raise rates by 4.9%, 5.9%, 6.9%, 8.3%, or reject that idea and choose something else.

This also comes amidst controversy over a series of reports by WBRC including thousands of customers going months without a bill then getting multiple bills at once, the news that the utility doesn’t make money on at least 41.5% of the potable water it produces, and series of reports showing former employees in the billing department warned BWWB last December of problems in their department before the series is billing issues became public.

Consumer Interest Division Chief Olivia Martin is demanding the utility turn over documents including:

  • The planning that lead to its 2023 budget proposal that includes the proposed rate increase
  • An organizational chart showing officers of the company and who reports to them
  • Monthly finance reports for the last 4 years
  • A list of outside contractors and the work they’ve done for the BWWB over the last 4 years
  • How many customers are included in each of the utility’s rate classifications
  • An explanation of why the utility wants to increase its budget for outside consultants in 2023
  • A list of BWWB directors and which meetings they’ve attended and the fees they’ve collected for attending those meetings, and more.

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