The new director of the Sewage & Water Board didn’t mince words in his first meeting before the agency’s full board. Ghassan Korban was very frank about the poor state of the system that he inherited when he was asked to speak on it on September 19. But Korban can take some solace in the fact that New Orleans knows he has a tough road ahead of him.
“When I’m in the store or the coffee shop and the conversation leads to me telling them that I’m here new and what I do, their first reaction is ‘Oh, bless your heart,'” he said. Followed by the “‘I will pray for you.'”
“One very concerning issue is the financial health of this organization,” he added. “We are in bad shape.”
According to S&WB Chief Financial Officer Yvette Downs, who spoke to WWL, the agency only has four days worth of cash on hand to put toward drainage operations and 63 days of cash on hand to fund the whole operation. According to Downs, the agency needs at minimum 3 months worth of cash on hand to be comfortable.
Part of their revenue problem stems from $23 million in unpaid bills, with the rest coming from the fact that they can’t seem to make ends meet while performing necessary repairs and services.