Residents protest utility billsPublished 9:38am Wednesday, March 27, 2013
BY ANDREW FAISON/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
FRANKLIN—Dozens of Franklin residents showed up to protest high utility bills, prior to and during City Council meeting Monday.
“I went out of town to Germany for almost a month,” said Franklin resident Dan Taylor. “When I came back and got my bill for January, it was over $500. I am really concerned about what happened.”
Concerned Citizens Against High Utility Bills group spokesperson Dr. Lynwood Johnson asked council to continue an investigation, he asked for during the March 11 council meeting, into improper meter readings or fluctuating rates for different parts of the city.
“We know this problem can be resolved so that it will never happen again,” Johnson said, during the citizens comment period. “We are counting on you to do the right thing, because we put you here to do it.
Johnson noted the problem is an emergency for the citizens of Franklin.
“We don’t need the problem drawn out,” Johnson said. “We need a quick fix. There are people that are out there hungry, they are struggling – there are whole families staying in one room to save money and that is not good.”
The average monthly kilowatt usage of a residence in the City of Franklin is around 1,300.
Franklin resident Michael Foreman also questions if electric meters are being read incorrectly or if they are malfunctioning.
“We sampled a group of 24 people, many of those people were using anywhere from 3,000 kilowatts to as much as 7,300 kilowatts a month,” Foreman said. “Every meter in the city should be checked, if we are paying $1 over what should be charged, that is $1 too much.”
Sabrina Wellington doesn’t understand why her bill has escalated.
“I have been in my house for 13 years – winterized my home with the help of the STOP organization, I use gas to heat my home,” Wellington said. “We just want you to help us find answers.”
“I am not going to let this go away,” she continued. “This isn’t going to be swept under the rug.”
Councilman Gregory McLemore also spoke during the citizens comment period, not as a councilman, but as a citizen stating he is a citizen first.
“When your light bill is more than your mortgage it is outrageous,” he said. “To me that is unacceptable.”
McLemore said he knows there are solutions to the issue.
“We do not have to continue to charge people for things they are not using,” he said. “The people can no longer afford to just give the city money. The people behind me know how to make a dollar out of .15 cents and this council can do the same thing if we make it our mission to lower these expenses.”
Some residents spoke of bills nearing $1,000 for one month of service.
“It’s not right to us people, some of them paying $900 – $1,000 light bills,” said Herman Parker. “It’s not fair to anybody. We are putting our foot down and saying we are not going to take it anymore.”