October 2, 2019
Last September, the City released their Bill of Rights for water customers. It was clear, and it outlined the basic level of treatment a customer should be able to expect. It was aspirational and, all things considered, a good first step in the right direction. Working Together Jackson participated in its shaping, supported its release, and has worked with the City to operationalize it in a manner that works for everyone.
For the last six months, leaders and staff from Working Together Jackson have met with Department of Public Works Director Bob Miller and other leadership of the City of Jackson Public Works Department more than a dozen times to find ways to bring relief to the Citizens of Jackson around the current water billing crisis.
It has been fruitful work. As a result, we have held two Water Billing Advocacy sessions at the Jackson Medical Mall and the MetroCenter where we were able to observe firsthand the difficulties low and moderate income people were having making payment arrangements.
As a result of our collaborative efforts with the Public Works Department, there are now multiple payment options available where before there was only one. But more importantly, there are objective criteria so if you act in good faith you will not leave without being presented options to pay your bill in a way that works for both you and the City.
The mark of a great city is how it takes care of those who need it most. Some of us in this city are truly struggling, and in recognition of that, the City is now extending the protections for those who are medically disabled from the current 60 days to one year, and it can be renewed annually after that.
We at Working Together Jackson are not done. These problems did not arise overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight. We look forward to continuing to work with Mayor Lumumba and Director Miller to make this a better process for everyone.
Working Together Jackson is a broad-based organization consisting of institutions that cross racial, religious and economic lines committed to collaborative strategies that solve many of the problems facing Jackson. Our mission is to rebuild Jackson through institutional leadership development as well as pragmatic and cooperative community problem-solving.
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Facebook live video coverage of the press conference is here. The city's statement is here.