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Petersburg mayor to reveal Paul Goldman’s findings in water billing ‘fiasco’

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PETERSBURG, Va. -- Petersburg mayor Howard Myers say he plans to hold a meeting next week to update residents on what he calls the city's "water billing mess."

In a statement provided to CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil on Friday, Myers said the former city attorney hired Paul Goldman to look into the water billing controversy.

"In my effort to make sure the people of Petersburg learn the truth about the Johnson Controls water meter contract fiasco, and the water billing mess, I had the one person who was trying to get the true facts - Mr. Paul Goldman - provide factual insights from his investigation to members of the City Council several weeks ago. I wanted to make sure the people's representatives were kept abreast of the situation.

Mr. Goldman is well known for his work for Doug Wilder and Mark Warner, along with his partnering with Tim Kaine on an innovative financial legislation that could save Petersburg tens millions of dollars. Mr. Goldman has studied public finance and been credited by Wilder, Warner and Kaine, along with Republican Governors for his understanding of fiscal matters. For example, Mr. Goldman is the one who helped expose several sweetheart financial deals in the City of Richmond including helping then Mayor Doug Wilder kill the Shockoe Bottom baseball stadium boondoggle.

It is my hope to hold a public hearing next Thursday at the Train Station where Mr. Goldman will be present to answer questions from the public on these fiascos. I will provide more details next Monday after discussing the matter at the City Council meeting with the appropriate officials."

The news comes after Myers issued a statement in response to calls for his resignation.

Earlier this week frustrated Petersburg residents packed a city council meeting and demanded Myers' ouster. Myers was sick and not at the meeting.

The call for Myers' job comes amid several crises facing the city, which have led to the departure of two city officials.

Petersburg has been plagued with water billing issues, which were uncovered in a CBS 6 Problem Solvers investigation.

Some people reported not receiving water bills from the city since 2015. Other people received bills that were hundreds of dollars higher than usual, despite no change in their water usage. At the time, the city said the bills were based on estimated usage.

In addition, Petersburg is dealing with a major budget shortfall.

In 2015, the city was $3 million in the red. Petersburg was delayed in paying outstanding debts to the Virginia Retirement System and South Central Waste Water earlier this year, as it granted more time to residents to pay water bills. Virginia State Police and the Auditor of Public Accounts are auditing Petersburg's books.

In March, city officials said they hoped water bills based on true water usage may be distributed in June.

The city's handling of the water bills and financial crises led to the City Council dismissing City Manager William Johnson in March. City Attorney Brian Telfair resigned that month.