Sky High Utility Bills!
Dear Mr. President, First Lady Obama, Governor, Senate, and Congressional Leaders,
We are concerned, desperate citizens hailing from the town of Rocky Mount, NC on the Edgecombe County side of town. We make this distinction because the utility bills here are killing this part of town.
This town is made up of two counties Edgecombe and Nash collectively called, "A City on the Rise". This really implies that the majority of Nash County is on the rise by standing on the backs and pockets of residents in Edgecombe and parts of Nash County that are close to the county line.
Our city council has had countless public meetings at city hall to hear how we complain about the exuberant pricing of gas and electricity since the flood of 1999. Their answer has been that the counties have two different energy suppliers and a deficit of an on growing debt of now millions of dollars starting in the 1970s. Many of us weren't even living in this town then. Residents living here pre-1999 said, “The utilities were not like this”.
The flood of 1999 has caused once thriving businesses to leave the area. With the businesses went the jobs, with the jobs went the homes, with the homes went the people into other towns, into shared homes, into Slum Lord housing, into welfare, homelessness and poverty. Since, the flood of 1999 the city of Rocky Mount utilities has doubled and tripled the cost of heating the remaining residential homes in Edgecombe county and part of Nash closest to the county line. Popular opinion believes this compensates for the lost of businesses and homes that once used these utilities.
Rocky Mount is slowly being revitalized by building a Credit Union in the Oakwood/Edmont area of Edgecombe County, with another strip mall, a bank, drug store and more housing. The current residential areas in the Edgecombe city limits are peppered with vacant, unoccupied homes and rising crime. Belief is that this part of town is targeted for revitalization due to overcrowding and commercialization in Nash and to make it easy for those that can buy these vintage, vacant homes for a fraction of the cost, call it historical and again lock out the undesired like it once was in the segregated south.
Please, explain why a house and or an apartment that is not occupied a full 24 hours or empty has a utility bill of $318 to $1,300 in one month, like department stores may have. Residents in Nash County are paying less than $400 a month if that. This form of price gouging is outright oppressive and is financially raping the citizens of Edgecombe County currently called, "the highest unemployment rate in North Carolina". Where is the proof? We have the utility bills themselves and the fact of the people at the city council meetings. Rocky Mount utility says, "You can pay in installments which last into the next heating season. Then we are penalized with interest because we can't meet the utility payments that are more than our mortgages and rents. It has gotten so out of hand that those that live outside the city limits are being annexed into the city limits to pay more taxes. Residents moved out of the city limits to avoid city taxation. To compensate we get another hard to find, low paying job, beg, borrow or steal or for some fixed income Elder succumbing to death from cold and hunger.
A young mother of two has a disability and works just enough not to get cut off from Medicare for medicine that she needs to live. She gets $96 for food stamps for the three of them based on her owning a car. She pays her own rent with child support. She goes to school to get a better education for a better job than the $8.50/hr part time job she has. She cries out because she cannot win for losing when she got a utility bill for $541.00.
First Lady Obama visited our town to campaign for our electoral votes. It was truly an honor and a privilege to say to the world “Yes We Can” and that our vote counted. We were told not to have any signs or banners of any kind other than the campaign banners or we would be banned from the event. Yes, I understand that was not the proper forum to voice our crisis.
We petition now, to have a forum and an investigation about the utilities in this town, before the City Officials spend the stimulus monies allotted to for this area. Weatherization of a few eligible homes will not help all of Rocky Mount. HELP US understand and to reach a solution to lower the bills other than unplugging devices, cutting off lights when not in use, lower the thermostat, wearing extra clothes or getting new insulated window etc. These energy saving measures do not make a difference in Edgecombe whether you use the utilities or not. Let's make it equal on both sides of the county lines, throughout its borders. We pray that you would please come again and this time, to listen to us that are drowning where there is no flood. A Town Hall meeting here with a representative from each office is a must!
GOD helps those who help themselves. Prayers continue to go up for our Soldiers, Haitians, oppressed, and people in peril in the US.
Concerned and Desperate Citizens
Write your government officials at:
Governor Bev Perdue
Congressman G.K. Butterfield
Senator Clark Jenkins District 3
State Representative Joe P. Tolson District 23
State Representative Jean-Farmer Butterfield District 24