CMUD Insider Named New Dept Director
The City of Charlotte conducted a nationwide search to find a new director for the beleaguered Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Department and ended up hiring a long-time employee of the department. Barry Gullet stepped in as interim director of the utilities department during a sensitive time. Past director Doug Bean resigned amid growing public outcry over high water bills and poor customer service. Gullet has overseen the department's early efforts to patch relations with customers. He'll now continue as the department's official director. Jim Duke says he'll reserve judgment on that outcome. Duke led a taskforce of Cornelius residents who issued harsh criticism of the utilities department. "We were concerned the management that was in place just didn't get it.," says Duke. "I think we see some signs they are now getting it. (I think) we should let the man run the thing for awhile before we start trashing him." Duke says the utilities department has made gains in responding to complaints of high water bills and field workers are being trained to be less dismissive of customer concerns that their water meters may be inaccurate. CMUD is also half way through a comprehensive audit of the city's water metering equipment. But Duke says one issue raised by the Cornelius Water Task Force has yet to be addressed: "They still haven't fixed the tier system." "It is onerous," adds Duke. "What they need to have is the whole customer base pay for the cost of doing business." The Cornelius group believes CMUD's current rate structure unfairly punishes large water users. Barry Gullet says CMUD will conduct a comprehensive review of its rates over the next year and report in February 2011.