Toledo residents sound off on city water service - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Toledo residents sound off on city water service

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Dozens of Toledo residents sounded off Tuesday night about their water service as one city council member is trying to change the way customers are treated.

Residents complained about bill payments and shutting off service, but the city is defending its water department.

At a public hearing, Mary Wilson told city council she's handling her sisters' water bills and says they're being charged double because the city takes estimated readings instead of actual readings.

"They don't know how to read a meter, they didn't know their meter was broke," Wilson said. "I strongly, strongly feel they should not be held accountable for that."

There were also complaints about customer service.

"I think this is something you could have gotten a college student to have done a better job of, as far as manning the phones," said Loretta Thomas. "You can call all day, every day, you may never get through."

Councilwoman Lindsay Webb is pushing three new ordinances to help customers. One would create a customer bill of rights so they understand their rights and responsibilities. Another would create an appeals board where a third party would decide the case.

"It's like a public policy shift," Webb explained. "City council taking ownership of how the Department of Public Utilities interacts with the residents that we represent."

The water department did have some support.

"From someone who is invested in other parts, we've got a great city and we do have a good water department compared to others," said Ramy Eidi, president of Eidi Properties.

Public Utilities Director Dave Welch spoke against Webb's proposals, saying they've taken many steps to improve customer service.

"We've been able to reduce the amount that people have to spend waiting on the phone by 42 percent in the last year, so we are moving in the right direction," he said. "We actually added another eight customer service reps in the last couple weeks."

City council could vote on the ordinances next week.

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