Cleveland Division of Water will start to install automated meter reading technology in homes this summer.
CLEVELAND - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson unveiled the "first phase" of a restructuring plan for the Department of Utilities, in an effort to improve customer service.
During a news conference, Mayor Jackson called for stepped-up customer service at the Cleveland Division of Water, Cleveland Public Power and Water Pollution Control.
In the past three years, billing accuracy at the Cleveland Division of Water has been called into question. Inaccurate water bills generated hundreds of complaints, which were sent to the NewsChannel5 Troubleshooter team.
A key part of the mayor's plan is the appointment of Ollie Shaw as assistant director of public utilities. Shaw was a 25-year employee of the Cleveland Division of Water Pollution Control, and will now act as the key leader in improving customer service.
Mayor Jackson stressed a new level of accountability when it comes to customer service at all city utilities, and believes Shaw is the right person for the job.
Shaw will assume direct control of the customer service department at the Cleveland Division of Water, and operational oversight of customer service at Cleveland Public Power and Water Pollution Control.
"My primary goal is to create a new organizational structure that is more efficient, delivers excellent customer service and is more accountable to to customers," said Mayor Jackson.
The Cleveland Division of Water is already moving into the second phase of a "turnaround project," aimed at improving billing accuracy, collection of delinquent accounts and reducing customer service call wait times.
This summer NewsChannel5 reported the Cleveland Division of Water carried 50,000 water accounts that remain uncollected, totaling some $70 million.
In October, 5 On Your Side obtained A 94-page report, released exclusively to NewsChannel5 by the Cleveland Department of Utilities. The report confirmed 3,750 water accounts owed at least $3,000 or much more.
Mayor Jackson reported progress in all three customer service areas, but admitted more improvements must be made. The mayor reported customer service call wait times have dropped from an average of 16 minutes last year, to just 30 seconds.
Jackson also appointed Jason Wood, PhD, as Chief of Public Affairs, and Keith Cromer as interim chief financial officer.
"For the department as a whole, we will improve efficiency of service delivery by leveraging resources across all divisions," said Mayor Jackson.
5 On Your Side is committed to keeping you updated on progress at the Cleveland Division of Water, a utility that serves 1.5 million consumers in 70 Northeast Ohio communities.