Senior citizens in Petersburg could see cuts in their bills

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Residents in Petersburg aren’t happy with their high-cost utility bills from month-to-month.

So, the city council is proposing a new plan to soften the burden on its senior citizens.

It’s a program in which residents above the age of 65 could see portions of their bills reduced drastically.

Franklin Mason paid off his water bill at the Peterburg City Council building on Thursday.

Something he says is getting to be too much, “This now is fluctuating, after you pay the bill you still have another bill.”

Mason is one of the 15% of residents who could see up to 50% or more of their bills go down through this proposal. He believes it’s a step in the right direction.

“They had had a budget crunch, so they’re trying to work through all the people, and help with some type of stability with their bills,” Mason said.

City Council member Treska Wilson-Smith has been advocating for more stability for a while now.

“It poses some to charge one set of people one number, and another set of people another number,” Wilson-Smith said.

She believes these Senior Citizen Utilities Discounts are a step in the right direction, and that City Council is listening to the plea of its residents.

Wilson-Smith says in the end, these cuts will help the cities financial issues, “If you have an exorbitant bill, and you can’t pay it then the city cannot collect anything. But if you can decrease that bill and the citizen can pay it, you are at least collecting something.”

Here’s how the proposed ‘Senior Citizen Utilities Discount Pilot Program’ breaks down. There are three options the council is deciding between:

            Option 1) Cut sewer rates by 50%,

            Option 2) Cut both sewer and water rates by 50 %,

            Option 3) Bring the 1, 1.5-inch rates to the same level as the 5/8 meter rates causing reduced base rates of 60%-77%.

The proposed program will have a public forum, then be put up for a vote at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 20th.

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