Holly Springs utility customers demanding answers for high bills

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. -- Getting a high utility bill can make all of us cringe, but imagine yours nearly tripling.

That’s what some people in Holly Springs say happened to them this month and they’re not getting answers as to why.

A Facebook live video circulating online shows Holly Springs utility customers trying to confront city officials about high bills.

“I was just so upset because it’s like what is going on? What are they doing? Why are we paying so much a month?” said Nakisha Snow.

Snow is often seen in the video trying to talk to the mayor, but not getting answers.

She says what are typically bills in the $200-range shot up to more than $450, and hers wasn’t the only one.

“This previous month, it was just an outrageous increase in utility bills across the board," said Levanda Goodman.

On Monday, the mayor referred us to the utilities department general manager, Bill Stone.

Stone said increases are from storms that came through in May and June. They caused damage that didn’t allow the smart meter readings to get sent to the billing system.

So employees read meters in dense neighborhoods, and their software provider did estimates in the rural areas.

The estimates are said to be algorithm-based, but they weren’t accurate for everyone.

Some customers were under-billed for the two months, causing this month’s bill to skyrocket.

“This is ridiculous because I have a business of my own and if I were to make a mistake, there’s no way I would put the mistake upon my customers," said Snow.

“We’ll do payment arrangements for those customers to help them get caught back up, but under state law and under our TVA contract, if we know you use those utilities, we’ve got to bill for them," said Stone.

He said they’re working to make it so the problem doesn’t happen again.

"Maybe in hindsight we should’ve been more proactive and gotten out there and talked about that a little more, but we felt like since every customer was affected in a different way, it was an issue that would be best to be dealt with on an individual basis," he said.

However, not everyone we spoke with on Monday were pleased with that, as some customers face bills of more than $700 and still feel they’re being overcharged.

Some community members say they plan to pack a meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday at City Hall, so they can voice their concerns.

The city couldn’t tell us how many customers were under-billed.

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