City Gas Bills

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Resident questions costly gas bills at pair of vacant houses

By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Batesville heard from a citizen concerned with excessive natural gas bills.

David Vance informed the board that two residences on College Street, both family properties that have been vacant for nearly a year had received increasingly large natural gas bills.

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“There hasn’t been anyone in the houses in a year, and these gas bills are higher than the one at my own home,” he said.

Vance said he had met with gas department superintendent William Wilson regarding his concerns.

“Your gas department superintendent was a gentleman even though we could not reach a meeting of the minds,” he said.

Vance pointed out that the April bill for the residences was over $700.

“I am getting a pressure test on the lines right now,” he said. “But I won’t have the results until late this afternoon.”

Vance explained that he had the thermostat set to 45 degrees and even turned the gas off outside when the bills continued to be high.

“When you cut the thermostat off, why wouldn’t you turn off the gas?” Mayor Jerry Autrey asked. “That kind of baffles me.”

Wilson told the board his department had removed the old meter and replaced it with a new one.

“We had the meter calibrated, and it was working fine,” he said.

“That means the gas is going through the meter,” Autrey said.

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders asked what relief Vance was hoping for from the board.

“I was hoping you would charge the average for the average bill for the high months,” he said.

Wilson added that the April bill of over $700 was not supposed to be billed.

“Well, that is a good thing for you right there,” Autrey said.  “But we don’t want to set a precedent. We have never given adjustments on gas.”

“If you start with him, this board is going to have people asking for gas adjustments every week like you do with water bills,” Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley said.

Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow suggested the board wait for the results of the pressure tests.

“We just don’t fool with the gas now, I’m telling you,” Autrey said.

“I was a fool for even coming down here,” Vance said prior to leaving the meeting.

“No, you weren’t,” Pounders replied. “We want to find out what is going on here just as much as you do.”

Aldermen agreed to discuss the matter further at their June 2 meeting.