Elizabeth City residents complain about higher utility bills, city manager cites several factors

North Carolina

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — “It’s way too high.”

“It was okay at first and then all of a sudden it just shot up, and I hope and pray that it goes down.”

That’s how Elizabeth City residents describe their utility bills lately.

“Oh, it’s rough. You have to choose what you have to pay first,” said Stacey Childress as she was leaving the city’s drive-thru window, having just paid her $540 bill.

Others have told 10 On Your Side they’re paying more for utilities than they do for rent. Elizabeth City utility bills combine electric, water, sewer and trash.

New City Manager Montre’ Freeman says a combination of factors are in play. First, the water rate went up at the same time the mercury went down.

“We’ve had some really cold and wet days and consequently everyone has used more energy,” Freeman said.

Freeman says the electric rate is the same as last year and in line with similar cities in North Carolina.

Plus, the city has switched to new more accurate “smart” meters — and Freeman says his bill went, up, too.

“It’s a lot more accurate than just shooting a gun and reading a meter in that fashion,” he said.

“Since they put those new meters in, I think that’s what made [my bill] go up some,” said Ebony Overton, who says her bill increased by about $40.

The new meters enable residents to see how they’re using energy, adjust their usage and ultimately save money.

Freeman denied that any increase in utility bills resulted from lost revenue when people couldn’t pay their bills during the pandemic.

For more information, visit the city public utilities website.

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