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We want to earn back your trust
Submitted by West Valley View on Wed, 02/22/2017 - 12:00am
by Jackie Meck
There is a saying that “trust takes years to build, seconds to lose, and forever to repair.” As the mayor of Buckeye, I understand that we have lost the trust from some in our community because of issues related to water billing and usage.
I want to ensure every resident that I have been working diligently for the past several months to address concerns from residents and continue to make this a top priority.
As an elected official, I take my role as a trusted leader of this community very seriously and I have spent the past weeks and months working with staff to identify solutions to this issue. I can promise you that the Council and city staff continue to be engaged and remain committed to working with customers to address all concerns regarding water billing and usage.
There have been many factors at play in our current situation, including: poor service from our billing contractor, inadequate response to customer complaints, and irrigation and plumbing problems on customer properties. Since October of 2016, the city has devoted itself to revamping, improving and updating our processes and practices to rebuild our water customers’ confidence with Buckeye’s Water Resources Department.
Actions by the council include: lowering water rates, and canceling a scheduled rate increase; meeting with concerned residents; ensuring that staff is held accountable for customer complaints; meeting with our billing contractor to address concerns; calling for the establishment of a hotline and email account dedicated to responding to customer billing concerns, just to name a few.
City staff have also taken steps to address this problem. They have provided additional, dedicated water resources staff to handle all water hotline inquiries, conducted one-on-one water audits at customer properties to address and find solutions to customer concerns, assumed customer service responsibilities for former Global water customers who were being billed by a private contractor, Fathom, hired and trained three new customer service representatives, installed new water meters and/or transmitting devices throughout the city to replace out-of-date equipment, and posted weekly updated hotline results on the city’s website so that residents are informed of the types of issues and how they are being handled.
However, I know there is more we need to do. Staff have reported to me that there are on-going improvements taking place that will continue to ensure our billing process has integrity and our customers are treated with respect.
In the coming weeks, the city will be implementing several new processes in the Water Resources Department to improve customer service, including:
• Improving field staff data collection to resolve customer concerns
• Revising customer service employee schedules, and expanding our customer service area to accommodate more customers at busy times
• Modifying billing cycles and due dates for accounts that may become delinquent
• Implementing on-going training for customer service staff
• Continuing to communicate with customers on water conservation techniques and tips to ensure we have enough water for today and tomorrow
As mayor, I will continue to ensure staff is held accountable, work with residents to find solutions, and do everything in my power to make sure our citizens have faith in the integrity of Buckeye city government. And, I hope that each of you will give us the chance to earn your trust back.
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