Joan Conrad, a retired teacher, told the council she was not able to pay her December, January and February utility bills.
“I haven’t paid the bill for a very good reason,” she said. “I had a heater failure in December, so I had no heat in my home for 10 days. Then a part had to be ordered.”
Conrad was surprised, to say the least, when she received her utility bill.
“My bill said $2,711 dollars,” Conrad told the Council. “I came to the utilities office in Town Hall and asked about the bill. It took several days, and then I got a call that there had been a mistake in my bill and it was $1,807. I was charged a late fee and was told my power would be cut off in March. In order for me to get my power turned back on, Mr. Wood (Town Manager Don Wood) made me pay $400, which is a pretty heavy fee for having power re-connected to your house.”
Conrad told the Council that she was speaking on behalf of many elderly residents in the Town.
“Many seniors only receive about $600 dollars to get through the whole month,” she said. “When you turn off someone’s power, you put them in peril. They slip, they fall, they run into things. Their perception can completely change.”
Teresa Arnold, the Legislative Director for the South Carolina American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) also spoke to the Council members.
“The AARP has always been concerned about citizens, especially those on fixed incomes,” Arnold said. “Nearly 30 percent of people in S.C. age 50 and over have a hard time paying their utility bills. Please consider what has happened here and see if you can provide her with a little bit of relief.”
Council member Bill Haslett told the other members about his recent economic development training classes he attended in Newberry.
“Newberry is willing to host Fairfield County and the Town to show us how they have improved the Town of Newberry from a ghost town to now drawing an average of 65 to 70 thousand people downtown, who spend an average of $63 dollars a day, each,” Haslett said. “I think we can learn some new good lessons from the Town of Newberry.”
“Newberry funded $17 million in projects with a one cent capital improvement sales tax. We have to learn how successful towns have done it,” he said.
Haslett made a motion that the Town of Winnsboro officials go to Newberry to meet with representatives there. The vote was a unanimous yes. No date was discussed for the meeting.