Skyrocketing utility bills sparks Tough Questions - CBS46 News

Skyrocketing utility bills sparks Tough Questions for East Point officials

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Dozens of residents in the Martell Homes housing complex in the city of East Point may soon lose power and water service because of what they call faulty meters, unreasonably high rates and governmental neglect.

"It's just messed up and I can't take it," said Sharon Mitchell, an East Point resident.

Mitchell is single, 85 years old and raising five grand kids on a fixed income.

"My income is less than $400 and I haven't gotten a $400 light bill since I've been here. It's always been more," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said her last three utility bills were $277, $645 and $1,200 and she said cannot pay it.

Sumadah Mayo is in the same situation.

"My bill for the month of August was $72.60 and my bill for the month of September is $597.83," said Mayo.

Mayo and Mitchell said their water and power usage has not increased and they said the housing authority told them there are no water leaks on the property.

"Over 100 people's lights are going to be terminated by Oct. 7 due to the fact that they can't pay their high bill," said Mayo.

CBS Atlanta asked East Point mayor Earnestine Pittman Tough Questions about the high bills. She said the primary problem is a 145 percent rate increase supported by the city manager and approved by city council. The mayor said she tried and failed to stop the rate increase.

But East Point city manager Crandall Jones doesn't see it that way. He said once he presented the facts, city council had no choice but pass it.

"Property taxes had been standing in the gap to keep the rates from going up. Well we lost $3 million in property tax revenue so there is no other way to do that than to raise the rates themselves," said Jones.

Jones said city council also approved a 25 percent subsidy for residential customers, keeping the city's rates among the lowest in metro Atlanta. Still some residents said that's not enough.

"It's ridiculous to be taking all this extra money, people don't have money like that."

The residents said they plan to speak out about the problem at Monday's city council meeting.

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