Dawson gas dept. problems shown on residents’ bills; SPLOST fund to be recovered

Dawson gas dept. problems shown on residents bills; SPLOST fund to be recovered

DAWSON, GA (WALB) - After an investigation into the city of Dawson’s gas department, city leaders say they don’t know why their employees were guessing what to charge people on their gas and water bills.

The interim city manager said they are working to make changes to the high gas and water bills people in the city have been receiving.

This comes after several discrepancies were found in the gas system.

“The persons reading the meters apparently just wrote down numbers,” said James Woods, the interim city manager.

Woods told the council Thursday those people reading the meters were no longer employed with the city.

One woman who wanted to remain anonymous said it’s a little too late for that.

“My second bill, the bill I just received went from $62 to over $200,” she said.

She’s lived in the city for a few months now and said she’s shocked at how high the rates are.

Her neighbors across the street said they barely use gas, but their bill skyrocketed this month.

“$366.39. Why is my bill that high? I have a brand new unit and I don’t even use it that much,” said Michael Jenkins.

Woods said this case is a familiar one.

The interim city manager said the city is working to make changes to the high gas and water bills people in the city have been receiving. (Source: WALB)
The interim city manager said the city is working to make changes to the high gas and water bills people in the city have been receiving. (Source: WALB)

“They were so far off that it created a situation where the bill all of a sudden jumped from the usage that they normally had, or below what they normally had to a very high number,” said Woods.

To solve these problems Woods has gone so far as sending off meters for testing.

But it's costing the city to deal with these problems.

“Where a meter was read, it was over read and we just went back and credit them back, because they were charged about $300 and something for gas,” Woods explained.

Though everyone may not be able to be reimbursed, the council agreed that changes have to be made for the department and the city.

Woods provided solutions for the council to consider as they go into their next work session.

Those recommendations of course included fixing the problems found by the public service commission, training dispatchers to deal with service calls, purchasing equipment, and hiring more people for the gas department.

SPLOST funds to be recovered

“There was some mistakes, we’re going to fix them.”

That’s what council members said Thursday night after nearly $90,000 worth of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money was used for things not allowed by the city’s SPLOST.

Interim city manager James Woods recommended fixing this problem with a check the city had just received from Georgia Power.

The check is for over $240,000, and would be used for franchise fees for the year.

The council agreed to use a portion of that money to fill the gap in the SPLOST fund.

“The matter in the general fund is just a matter of making sure we monitor our budget and that we make spending adjustments accordingly,” said Woods.

The money for the franchise fee would have to be put back to cover gap.

All of the council members agreed to move forward with this plan.

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