On Monday, March 3, Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers again submitted a resolution to the City Council authorizing the city to offer a levelized billing option to utility customers.
Again, some members of the City Council and city employees present had questions about the issue, specifically whether or not the city’s computer programming can handle a levelized billing option. Rogers has told Aldermen the city’s software provider assures him it can be done.
Because of the questions, action wasn’t taken on the resolution. Rogers said this week he’s going to try again in April and is planning to have representatives of the city’s software provider present to answer questions.
"Even if they can’t come to the April meeting, I’m going to try an arrange a conference call at the meeting," Rogers said. "That way, the City Council can ask questions and get answers."
Rogers first presented the levelized billing option last year. It was also a topic at a public meeting after the February City Council meeting. Around 25 residents attended that meeting and asked questions about high utility bills.
Rogers said his latest attempt to get a resolution approved won’t be his last.
"I’m going to keep bringing it up until we have a vote on it," Rogers said. "I want to set it up to begin in the fall, so we have time to get additional information."
Under the plan, customers will have the option to pay a 12-month rolling average of their utility bill. The option will be available to residents who have been customers for at least one year and have a record of making payments on time.
Rogers has said the option is needed to mitigate the impact of high swings in utility bills.
"I think it’s an option our people deserve," Rogers said. "I’ve gotten too many calls over the last two months about high utility bills. People are hurting because of high utility bills."
Rogers has said that under levelized billing, the monthly bill will vary by $15 to $20.
"I’ve got people telling me that because of high electric bills, they’re having problems buying food," Rogers said. "It really hurts to hear that. Some of our people are hurting and if we can help them, we should help them."
Also at the meeting, the City Council voted 5-0 to allow Rogers to negotiate a lease agreement with the owner of property at the corner of West Walnut and Express streets. Rogers said the city will lease the land at $1 a year for five years and place a replica of the Eiffel Tower on it. The replica was given to Paris last year by the Rev. Don Eubanks, former pastor of First United Methodist Church.