Archived Story

Franklin residents voice concerns over escalating utility bills

Published 11:05am Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BY ANDREW FAISON/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
andrew.faison@tidewaternews.com

FRANKLIN— Sylvia Lankford questions if electric meters are being read incorrectly or if there are two separate electric rates in Franklin.

“This is ridiculous,” said Lankford, who paid $997 in utilities for February and March. “I have a friend living on the north side of town yet they only pay $197 a month.”

Utility rates do not vary for different areas of the city, noted Franklin City Manager Randy Martin. Franklin does vary its rates to all customers during the year, when a customer uses more than 800-kilowatt hours during October through May the rate is $0.07563 as compared to $0.10612 for June through September.

“Those rates are a way to level out the impact to our citizens during the winter months,” Martin said.

City Council is planning a work session to demonstrate to citizens how meters are read in the city and other concerns associated with utility bills said Franklin Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn.

“At that work session we will also give information on the financial programs we have in the city,” she said.

Johnson-Ashburn encourages citizens to contact Martin in the meantime.

“We understand everyone’s situation is different and that is why we urge everyone to express their concerns to Martin,” she said. “I would like specific results from Mr. Martin at the next scheduled meeting.”

The Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills group presented council with a petition that began circulating during the group’s first meeting on Feb. 25 asking for the investigation.

Martin is interested in meeting with individual customers about their concerns.

“I want to hear these specific citizens concerns because everyone’s situation is different,” Martin said. “I am here to be fair and equitable to all our citizens and customers. We want to help answer all citizen concerns as well as look at the collective issue.”

Citizen group spokesperson Dr. Lynwood Johnson reiterated Lankford’s concerns about improper meter reading during City Council’s Monday meeting.

“Our citizens are in a tough economic situation,” Johnson said. “This situation is too devastating. The average annual income on the Southside is only $19,000, we want an investigation on this so as to work with the city.”

Johnson gave city council an example of a family living on Hall Street whose bills between December and March rose from $262.51 to $486.99.

“The husband works out of town and a second job in town while the wife works in town, they are hardly at home,” Johnson said. “Basically the bill has escalated and that is a concern for all the citizens here tonight.”

The citizens group wants to work cooperatively with the city to find answers, Johnson noted.

“This is something that needs to be worked out,” Johnson said. “It is an incredible burden on the citizens, especially our senior citizens.”

The city does offer an assistance program for seniors and lower income residents.

“I encourage people to get in touch with staff about inquiring about those programs,” Martin said. “As well as Mark Bly’s office about a home energy audit.”

Energy audits involve going into a home to check the condition of the home insulation and the heating and air unit.

“We do a write up to show citizens where energy is being lost in their home,” Bly said. “This service does not cost the citizen anything and anyone in the city can have one performed.”

  • employee2

    I had respect for Dr. Johnson until he stated that he saw some meters turning really fast and then they saw others going slow. All meters do not turn fast or slow at the same time. It is directly related to the “load” on your house. Try a little experiment…Go look at the meter on your house, take note of the wheel speed. Then go in your house and turn on two eyes on your stove and preheat the oven, Now go out and look at your meter. That is load.

    Suggest Removal

  • 2fishy

    funny most of them fussing in newspaper,tv,etc dont even pay their own bills.

    Suggest Removal

  • DryRain

    You know what, it is the 16th of March and I haven’t received my utility bill for this month. I better go check again. When is cut off day, the 20th?

    Remember when we use to get them in the mail by the 1st or 2nd of the month.

    Suggest Removal

    • employee2

      Received mine last Friday or Saturday.

      Suggest Removal

    • Curiousreader

      A whole new can of worms! Let’s get up a petition up against the post office. That’s the hangup, not the city!

      Suggest Removal

      • SandMan

        Maybe we “Northsiders” can start an investigation as to how “Southsiders” receive their bill before we do, which in turn, forces us to pay a late fee. Sounds about as legitimate, right?

        Suggest Removal

  • bobs94

    Come on people. We all know that many minorities are incapable of taking care of themselves. We have to give them money and food or they won’t live long enough to have a more children that will be taught this culture of receiving handouts. We OWE this to them because every white person in this country owned slaves in the past or benefitted from slaves in some way.

    Suggest Removal

    • mr23851

      @bobs94 …you might be the one who thinks somebody owes you something or you are ENTITLED to things others are not.

      Suggest Removal

  • Liberty With Responsibility

    “It is an incredible burden on the citizens, especially our senior citizens.”

    How is this so? I had not heard that senior citizens’ incomes were reduced in this economy. Maybe their “working hours were cut? Maybe they were furloughed recently? These are all things NON senior citizens have had to put up with for the last several years, yet no one seems interested in “helping assist” our kind of folks. Why are seniors always babied with such patronizing language?

    Suggest Removal

  • Councill

    At their Thursday, March 14, 2013, meeting, the Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills have agreed to plan a boycott of the city’s electric department, and possibly city businesses as a means to protest the city council’s failure to address the community’s concerns regarding the electric bill problems.

    Suggest Removal

    • Councill

      As of March 14, 2013, the group has around five hundred supporters.

      Suggest Removal

      • employee2

        What are they going to do? Turn off their own power? Boycotting means not using something.

        Suggest Removal

    • concernedcitizen

      hey councill, what are you going to do? Im sure they wont mind to come cut you off!!!! really see what boycotting means…. sounds like fluff to me

      Suggest Removal

  • Typhoon

    “geographically” So glad you have moved what you have stated is not true not even believeable,you can now be a trouble maker and rabble rouser for the City of Suffolk,good luck in your new venture.

    Suggest Removal

  • geographically challenged

    One of the reasons that my family moved out of the city was the awful electric bill! I questioned the city about meter reading on several occassions when we moved to Franklin from Suffolk because I NEVER saw a meter reader and since I work an alternative schedule I was home, during the day, over half of the month. The response, they drive by and point at the houses, get a basic reading, then guess your usage based on your usage (during that time period) the previous year. They don’t take into account that there may be new tenants at that residence, that you may have peak usage changes, or that you have made steps toward energy conservation in your home. That would take to much of their time.

    Suggest Removal

    • DryRain

      What was he pointing at your house with, his thing… I have reason to doubt your story, A M R (automatic meter reading) does not work like that, it gives a precise reading, he doesn’t need to come to your house he just needs to be in the area are in the neighborhood. Dominion Power uses the same system in some places. A good question to ask is: In the past 10 years about how many meters have been check, how many were off, and who’s favor was the reading in, the customer are the City’s?

      Suggest Removal

    • employee2

      You may believe this, but it is in no way true.

      Suggest Removal

      • SandMan

        They won’t listen, nor believe you. In the end…they’ll request a different electricity rate than the North Side. The scary thing is, these people are allowed to procreate.

        Suggest Removal

  • mdks26

    Not sure why the TN went to the trouble of putting an article in the paper x2 without even consulting/interviewing/quoting the people/department responsible for reading the meters, energy audits, etc. Franklin Power & Light Director/Employees should have been the first people contacted when these articles were being written – having their input based on knowledge and expertise would have cleared up a lot confusion on the part of those who don’t seem to understand how metering works

    Suggest Removal

  • DryRain

    My neighbor showed me their utility bill. They told me that it had almost doubled from the month before. He was right, if you don’t paid the previous month’s bill it will show up on the next month’s bill.

    “This is ridiculous,” said Lankford, who paid $997 in utilities for February and March. “I have a friend living on the north side of town yet they only pay $197 a month.”

    What Mrs. Lankford needs to do is let the City Electric compare the two residences she is referring to and do a side by side comparison if the other resident doesn’t mind, and report back at the next City Council Meeting so everyone can see what is going on with this issue.

    Shouldn’t customers with complaints about their electric issues contact that department head with the problem instead of the City Manager, just seems to make better sense. There is nothing worse than second or third hand information. Right now it is starting with the customer, goes through Mr. Linwood Johnson, goes to the City Manager, then Mr. Bly (Electric Department Head), then he is going to pass it on to someone within the department who might pass it on to someone else. Just saying…….

    My utility bill in Franklin, if I didn’t use any electricity, water, sewer, had no trash to be picked up would be around $80.00 a month. How about them apples…

    Suggest Removal

  • aRtSyMoM

    The average annual income on the Southside is irrelevant, people’s utility bills can not be based on income.

    Suggest Removal

  • shocked

    I would encourage all citizens to monitor their meters. Meters are very easy to read. Keep documentation of your readings and compare your information to your electric bill. Take advantage of the energy audit!

    Suggest Removal

  • handkusp45

    It all has to do with insulation, windows and doors, type of heat and thermostat settings. Duh!!

    Suggest Removal

Editor's Picks