Confusion, frustration over New Bern utility changes - WNCN: News, Weather

Confusion, frustration over New Bern utility changes

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NEW BERN, N.C. - When New Bern resident Sophia Worthington saw her utility bill for the month of July, she was shocked.

"I literally almost cried because I couldn't believe it," Worthington said.

She received a more than $1,700 bill from New Bern utilities.

She only used about $123 worth of electricity, but in addition to almost $250 she still owes from last month's bill, the city added a $1,279 "deposit" to her bill.

"Where did it come from?" Worthington asked.

The deposit came from her two highest bills from the past 24 months which the city says they only give to people who are on payment plans because they can't afford their bills and missed past payments like Worthington.

But this is where the frustration starts for people in similar situations.

She said a person from New Bern utilities told her she had to pay all $1,700 by September otherwise her lights are shut off.

But New Bern spokeswoman Colleen Roberts says that's not correct.

"You have up to 10 months to pay your security deposit," Roberts said.

She said the city added the deposit because they're losing too much money from people not paying their bills.

She added the city notified customers of the changes by using social media and explaining the changes on the bills itself.

Though many people like Worthington feel blindsided by the changes.

"Do something to help us with this," Worthington said. "It's no way in the world I can pay this light bill." 

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