Worth County seniors struggling to pay bills

City Manger Autron Hayes says each resident gets two extensions for the year if you can’t pay the bill in full.
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:56 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2023 at 5:57 PM EST
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SYLVESTER, Ga. (WALB) - Inflation is making it harder for many to pay their bills, especially for seniors on fixed incomes. WALB spoke with experts as to why utility rates might be higher than normal.

Sylvester Resident Phyllis Thornton says she often struggles to pay her light bill because she is on a fixed income. Her most recent bill was $423 but during the summer months it was about $500 month.

“Being on fixed income without my assistance of my daughter I wouldn’t be able to pay all of it. And there is nothing left because if you look at it on a fixed income all of the money goes towards my utilities,” said Phyllis Thornton, Sylvester Resident.

City Manger Autron Hayes says each resident gets two extensions for the year if you can’t pay the bill in full. The city manager also says you get two additional weeks before they cut your lights off.

“You know that with all our customers we understand that there are going to be hard times. And the city tries to anytime we can be flexible in it’s discretion when it comes to people asking for extensions,” said Autron Hayes City manger of Sylvester.

I reached out to a local economics professor at Albany State University and he says there are several factors that contribute to high rates.

“If you are living in a home that is not properly insulated or we have infrastructure that hasn’t been updated. And I don’t have that information whether the infrastructure of Albany utilities is updated or not. But that can play a role into why utilities rates are higher,” said Aaron Johnson, Economics Professor at Albany State University.

Phyllis Thornton also uses Medicare Advantage. It’s a card that can be used for utilities but she can’t use it for that in Sylvester because the city doesn’t accept it.

“Because it’s going to be cold and nobody wants to have their lights turned off when it’s cold. Nobody needs to go through the situation. Even though mine was only turned off for a few hours still it could have been prevented,” said Phyllis Thornton, a Sylvester Resident.

It’s a difficult situation – especially as the holidays…and winter months…draw near.