Hiring struggles could link to high utility bills in Henderson

Newscast recording
Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Some people living in Henderson are looking for an explanation as to why their utility bills are so high. The city says it could be connected to the challenge of hiring people in the wake of COVID-19.

Some long-time residents in Henderson say they’re seeing utility bill amounts unlike any they’ve seen before. The city says a potential fix to the problem could be in the works, but it may take a bit of time.

Gina Howard has lived in the same house for about two years, and paid $250 to $400 a month in utilities during that time. However, in the past few months, she’s been paying between $600 and $700.

”It’s sad that you have to take money out of your savings to pay a bill that big,” said Howard. “It’s twice as much as your house payment, and I feel bad for the ones that are getting these bills that can’t afford to do that.”

The city of Henderson’s system for utility billing requires someone to go to each house and record their usage. Before the pandemic they had about six meter readers on staff, during the pandemic that number dropped to two. This meant meter readers couldn’t visit each house, so the city started estimating usage.

Recently Henderson started contracting meter readers to increase their numbers, since they struggled to hire people to fill the open spots.

The city says they’ve struggled to fill all kinds of positions, including with the fire department, police, public works, and sanitation.

”It’s been difficult, and I think that this is something that’s on the minds of our board of commissioners, to work hard on the recruitment and retention aspect of employment,” said Henderson Public Information Officer Donna Stinnett.

Gina says when she reached out to the city, they said any incorrect estimates would be credited back to homeowners, but that doesn’t help right away.

”’It will all work itself out’ was the answer I got,” said Gina. “‘It will all work itself out,’ but it won’t work itself out for the people that don’t have $700 to pay utility bills this month. That’s a big chunk to take out of savings to pay one bill, so it’s pretty devastating.”

If you live in Henderson, and you’re frustrated with your bill amounts, the city says to reach out to the utility collections office.