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WG&L pondering deposit increases

The Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission was founded 100 years ago to serve as Albany’s municipal utility.

The Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission was founded 100 years ago to serve as Albany’s municipal utility.

ALBANY, Ga. -- The city of Albany's Water, Gas & Light Commission board was given a homework assignment at its monthly meeting Thursday morning, one that could result in increased deposits for its new customers.

Fiscal Affairs Director John Vansant shared the results of, and asked board members to take a closer look at, a survey sent to other state utilities asking for information on the deposits each charged. Vansant has pushed for deposit increases to offset bad-debt losses suffered by WG&L. He said the utility has already accumulated $687,000 in bad debt in the first seven months of the current fiscal year.

"I'm giving you this for information purposes at this time, but I'd like your feedback on it," Vansant said. "I'd like to hear from you which direction you'd like to go in."

Vansant said WG&L customers pay a maximum $100 deposit for all three services provided by the utility (water, gas and electricity). Most other utilities that responded to the survey showed much larger deposits.

The fiscal affairs director asked the board to consider increasing deposits after giving a financial statement that shows WG&L operating at $1.2 million less than had been budgeted for the year, primarily because of mild weather in August and January.

Vansant also outlined a plan by which the utility will increase its reserves from a current $3.8 million to more than $7 million by the end of the fiscal year (June 30) and to almost $11 million by the end of FY 2014.

Also at Thursday's meeting, Assistant General Manager for Operations Keith Goodin said recent heavy rains had hampered efforts to complete Phase 1 of the WG&L-funded 900 Front St. hazardous waste cleanup that started Feb. 18.

"We'd budgeted to test 5,000 gallons of water from the site, but we're already at 17,000 gallons," Goodin said. "That's an extra expense because we have to test all the water before dumping it in our drainage system. It's also caused delays in the project because we have to vacuum the water out the holes we're digging, plus the crews don't work in the rain.

"What we've found so far, though, is that the contamination has been pretty much contained. It's too soon to tell, but early indications are that this is not a horribly significant problem."

John Lansing, the pricing and sales manager for Electric Cities of Georgia, reprised a presentation he'd made to the board in November for the benefit of interim General Manager James Taylor and new board members Judith Corbett and Chad Warbington. He stressed that the collective was recommending an 11 percent rate increase on small commercial businesses and small seasonal decreases for larger businesses so that WG&L's rates remain basically the same but still lower than Georgia Power's.

"With the rate changes we're recommending, WG&L would stay pretty much revenue neutral," Lansing said.

Before the business portion of the meeting, the board presented a plaque of appreciation to recently retired General Manager Lemuel Edwards.

"We present this to you on behalf of your staff and the Water, Gas & Light Commission," Albany Mayor/WG&L Chairwoman Dorothy Hubbard said. "And we want to thank you, thank you, thank you for your service."

Comments

Abytaxpayer 1 year, 1 month ago

$687,000 in bad debt in the first seven months of the current fiscal year. Thief of services is a way of life in the "Good Life" ......They do it because they can!

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SMHgain 1 year, 1 month ago

I have an idea, how about these customers causing the almost seven hundred thousand dollars of bad debt be made to pay higher deposits. That would seem fair since they are the ones causing the debt, instead of everyone being forced to pay higher utility deposits because of the usual "gimme" crowd not paying for the services that they used.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 1 month ago

That $100 is not enough. Make them pay the $100 and do not refund. You may not do that. I do not live in Albany. I do have some friends who live in Albany and they waste utilities which is beyond belief. $600 for a winter bill. They use these plug in heaters all the time as well as central heat. Some even have fire places which are almost free, why not use them. With Georgia Power the most my bill has ever been is a little of $200.

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rightasrain 1 year, 1 month ago

Just shut off their services, let'em scream, kick, and cry discrimination; but DON"T turn the service back on until the past due is PAID IN FULL. What part of "collection" does Vansant NOT understand?

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jglass 1 year, 1 month ago

I agree......they are given hand outs on the utility bills as well. And, it is probably the same customers on a monthly basis. I know times are hard, however, they are hard for everyone and I am tired of paying for those who think they are entitled to have freebies of all kinds. These people who cannot pay their utility bills.........stop purchasing lotto tickets, quit purchasing cigarettes and quit purchasing alcoholic beverages and you would have money to pay for your necessities!!!! Now, when it comes to the elderly because they are on a limited income, yes they do need help that they cannot get!!!

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Roundman 1 year, 1 month ago

They pay the $100 deposit -- then run their bill up until they get cut off --- no telling how much the city let's them owe (several months) before cutting services off. Then when they are cut off -- another member of the family goes and pays another $100 deposit and opens up the account in their new name. Happens over & over -- so for a deposit of $200-$300 a year -- you have all the utilities you need plus some to waste as was stated above-- The city is not going to stop these folks from their DEAD BEAT culture. The city knows what's happening - they see it every day -- every day!!!

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VSU 1 year, 1 month ago

People get handouts on everything else. No surprise that utilities would be included. People that normally pay on time would get their services cut off if they were late, but people that don't normally pay on time if at all does not. Makes no sense.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 1 month ago

Make the deposits reasonable. Don't contemplate fairness. WG&L is a business and has a duty to the bottomline even though it is a government agency, it can't be charitable.

WG&L supervisors need to polish up your resume. Jr. Langstaff, Postell, the inimitable IVY HINES and Milquetoad Mayretta is coming. Regardless of the goodness of Dorothy (still in OZ) Hubbard, "were not in Kansas, Toto."

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 1 month ago

"Jess runnoft in tha middle of tha nite........." Now where do people learn this stuff?

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Ihope4albany 1 year, 1 month ago

I am still hoping that one day, the layers will be peeled back to show why so many people in Albany are poor. It did not happen overnight and it did not happen by accident. Deliberate actions were taken by people in the past against other people in the past and the present poor people that you see are the result of those actions.

May God have mercy on those who are struggling with the ugly legacy of the past. May God also have mercy on the souls of those who brought this terrible situation into being.

It will have to end one day and some may be very surprised when the prophecy of the the Good Book comes true, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

I hope those who are last now will not write nasty comments about those who are first now who will become last in the future if the scripture holds true.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 1 month ago

There are so many poor people in Albany because so many poor people get so much free stuff paid for by the few remaining hard working taxpayers. The deliberate actions which are deliberately not taken are by the mendicants (aggressive freeloaders) who will not take advantage of free education, free food, free housing, free unemployment compensation and free medical care sufficiently to get off their behinds and do something for themselves. One thing is for sure, I do not deliberately pay my hard earned money to these mendicants. I am forced, required, made to give it to them while the receivers of the munificent largesse are required to do absolutely nothing to keep getting it.

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whattheheck 1 year, 1 month ago

Right you are Fryar. If you want to see how the "mendicants" as you say are put up in style and comfort, take a quick trip down S Madison and ride through the 250 units of at-the-present beautiful housing we built at the three Southlake projects, on the left. And if you continue south, you will see on the right the now discussed Cutliff project where we took a $1 million licking a few years back pre-Cutliff and kept on ticking, now working our way down to another $700,000 licking.

So back to the subj of utility deposits, taking a line from Jaws, "we are going to need a bigger deposit", not boat in this case, to reduce this scam. If not, we will continue on like Lee with its garbage non-payment problem that seems too big to solve! If we ever learn, there is no evidence to show it.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 1 month ago

ihope4albany, get your head out of the sand. It is called generational bondage. They learn it at the knee of their ancestors. Has nothing to do with folks telling them what to do. I beseech you to come and volunteer in DCSS and you will have your eyes open. You can blame all the people in the past for their wrong doings, h... even Martin Luther King, his family had servants. But all said and done, no one can control your actions but you. Henry Ford only went to 2nd grade and look what he did. Part of the problem is you will not take action for your on stupidity. Look in the mirror. America has always been the land of opportunity, but the catfish will not jump into the boat, you have to throw out a pole.

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