By Matthew Breazeale
In response to several complaints from Durant citizens about high utility bills a town hall style meeting was held Monday at city hall.
During the February 5 board of aldermen meeting residents voiced aggravation over fuel costs and possible mis-reading of electrical and water meters.
"I have bills I can show where my electricity is lower and my fuel adjustment is higher," said Bilal Azeez, a manager at a local dollar store, during the board meeting. "A $370 bill for a single person...is ridiculous."
One citizen, Eloise Luckett, said her meters were not being read properly.
"My water meter is full of leaves and full of water," said Luckett, "How are you gonna tell me you're going to read the water meter and adjust it, I have a problem with that."
"The people that have the store behind us," said another citizen, "was speaking to us, their (utilities) is $1000 and ours is half the price of a store, they run day to midnight with freezers and everything I don't see how that can be correct if we live in a mobile home."
Monday night Durant's Electrical Engineer Jerry Smith presented information to a crowded board room on how rates are calculated.
"You think you’re paying a high price for (electricity) but in reality you’re paying just about the same amount at what the city has to buy it for," said Smith.
Smith said Durant made an approximate revenue of $120,382 in energy sales for 2012.
"The city needs a little bit of money to pay salaries, maintain the system and buy repair parts."
Smith continued that rates for Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi or MEAM are set up for lower usage in the summer and higher in the winter.
"To average it out you still pay about the same thing on a yearly basis," said Smith.
According to Smith factors such as natural gas usage, leaking pipes, high thermostats, older mechanical electrical meters, water heater thermostats and electronics left plugged up when not in use can all attribute to kilowatt usage.
During the town hall meeting Azeez presented one of his utility bills to be reviewed by the mayor and board members.
It was discovered that he had been over charged $16 for electricity.
Mayor Robert Johnson said anyone who wanted to have their bill rechecked was welcome to do so.