| By Jason C. Mattox
One outraged citizen promised a switch to propane after city leaders rejected her plea for assistance with two high heating bills.
Pearl Gregory appeared before the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen during their Tuesday afternoon meeting hoping to resolve the problems she encountered with her heating bills.
Gregory first explained she felt she had been charged for too much usage at her current home on Turtle Creek before explaining a situation with another property located on Trianon.
"My bill last month claims I used 200 units," she said. "The bill the month before, I only used 90 units. There is no way there was that much used."
Gregory explained she began keeping a close watch on her natural gas usage after receiving that bill.
"Here we are a month and a half after that bill, and I have only used 169 units," she said. "Something is wrong with that bill."
Gregory explained that she didn’t believe the meter was accurately read.
Gregory’s plea and responses from aldermen and city personnel consumed the first 45 minutes of the meeting.
Gas department superintendent William Wilson told board members he personally checked the meter for any problems.
"There were no problems with the meter, and I don’t believe the problem was with the man who read that meter," he said.
The second problem Gregory presented to the board was a high bill for her former residence on Trianon which has been empty for approximately one year.
"I don’t understand how, with nobody living there, the bill was $225," she said. "We never even received a bill until right around Christmas 2005.
"As far as my husband and I knew, everything was shut off in that house," Gregory added.
Wilson said he believed part of the problem was her cutting it off and then her husband re-starting service just days later.
"That was for a two-day period when we were having carpet installed in the house," Gregory answered.
Utility Clerk Lisa Hamilton said, after examining a print out of bills, that it looked like the meter was not being read regularly, and the billing reflected a cumulative usage.
"Since the meter was read, we have to draw conclusions that the gas was used," Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley said.
After aldermen voted 4-0 to uphold the bills, Gregory said she would be switching to propane for her heating needs.
"All this did was make me want to change to something that I can keep a closer eye on," she said. "And I will be changing from the city’s natural gas."