SPENCER, Okla. (KFOR) – Spencer residents received an unwelcome surprise in the mail. Their utility bills are spiking, and in some cases by hundreds of dollars. The City of Spencer has said the jump is due to the new smart meters that have been recently installed at homes.
“Well, I’m not very happy about the bill jumping the way that it did, especially when I’m a single person. I live at home alone,” said one Spencer resident who wants to remain anonymous. “It went from $60 to $137. I need someone in City Hall to explain to me how this is working.”
According to an Aug. 5 memo on the City of Spencer’s website, the first round of billing for their “new automatic meter-reading software” has been sent. It continues by saying some residents will see “a significantly higher water charge on their bill.”
“I’m angry,” said another resident, who also asked to be anonymous. “How do I go from $60 from the last several months to a $237 water bill. What? How does this happen? And how am I supposed to pay it? And if I’m a day late, then there’s penalties on it. So, I’m very upset.”
City of Spencer Councilwoman Tonni Canaday has been trying to clear the confusion on behalf of her residents. City officials tell her the smart meter bills are higher because they’re more accurate than the old tracking system. Canaday is calling it unfair.
“When you’re getting a bill that’s been $100, maybe $80, and now you’re getting a bill that’s reading $600, $700, in one case $2,000, and the citizens are preparing for school, and trying to get their children ready and buy supplies, now they’re faced with either pay a bill or not have any water,” Canaday said.
She’s recommending people with bill complaints go to City Hall for possible adjustments.
Canaday shared an email exchange with City of Spencer Manager Shamia Jackson with KFOR. In it, Jackson said, “the utility bills are correct.” In her message, she also said, “We are doing our part to exercise good customer service to adjust and make arrangements along the way.”
The city’s memo advises, “If you see that your bill may not be correct, contact City Hall at (405) 771-3226, option 3, for information and a printout of your water usage. We ask for your patience and understanding while we work the kinks out of the system.”
Canaday expressed a lot of uncertainty about the future.
“That’s what I can’t answer,” she said. “I was trying to get from our city manager yesterday. If you’re saying that these bills are correct, are you saying then that the citizens need to prepare next month to have much higher bills then they’ve seen in the past?”
Councilwoman Canaday has called for a special meeting with the City of Spencer attorney, city manager and City Council to further discuss the smart meter billing.