The head of customer service for the City of Shreveport's water department has been placed on leave amid ongoing problems with misread meters, customer service representatives and the water billing software.

  The move was the latest by Mayor Ollie Tyler's administration as it tries to address persistent problems with the Department of Water and Sewerage. Those problems have become major issues for both the administration and City Council members, who are also fielding complaints from angry constituents.

  Two individuals familiar with the situation said Water and Sewerage Director Barbara Featherston has had to focus more and more time on those problems.

 Sharon Pilkinton, superintendent of customer service, has been placed on leave.

  A spokeswoman for the mayor declined comment, saying it was a personnel issue. Efforts to reach Pilkinton for comment were unsuccessful.

  The city's water and sewer billing system has been beset by problems. There has been widespread underbilling of thousands of water and sewer accounts, and hundreds of other residents are complaining of overbilling.

  The Tyler administration has sued the software company to recover $1 million in lost revenue from chronic underbilling and has notified the company it will be replaced when its contract expires. Systems & Software is fighting the lawsuit, saying in a response to the lawsuit that any harm to the city was caused "in whole or in part by the conduct of third parties outside S&S's control," including the city.

The city is being sued by Shreveport businessman Scott Pernici, who said he brought the chronic underbilling problem to the Tyler administration's attention and they took steps to try to fix the problem without compensating him. Pernici later filed another suit alleging citywide overbilling of sewer bills.

The Tyler administration is looking for an outside auditor to review the billing system but has not yet selected one.

Meanwhile, the city's internal auditor is reviewing how the water department trains and supervises employees in areas like customer service and billing complaints.

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