CLAREMORE, Oklahoma –
Hundreds of Claremore residents are petitioning for an audit because of high utility bills.
The residents say they have been getting high electric bills for years and it’s forcing them to make difficult decisions.
Now, they are hoping to take their concerns to Oklahoma City, but first they have to get enough signatures.
Shelly Taylor has been collecting signatures for her petition for weeks now.
She says she wants to state to audit the city of Claremore over what she says are unreasonably high electric bills since the city installed smart meters in 2014.
12/23/2013 Related Story: Claremore To Upgrade Utility Meters To Smart Meters
“Electric bills in Claremore have always been high, but in the past several years they have gotten much higher,” said Taylor.
And Taylor is not alone. Hundreds of people, like Charity Dennis and John Dawson, have already signed the petition and say the high bills have forced them to make some difficult decisions over the years.
“We always had a $500 electric bill or more. So, I had to make a decision – do I pay electric bills or do I make a house payment?” stated Dennis. “We lost the house.”
“I don’t know if the city is taking advantage, but that is why I am signing this. Let’s find out what is going on,” said Dawson.
Jonah Humes, Claremore’s Assistant to the City Manager, says the city has worked with residents to lower bills by offering to help residents understand why their bill is so high.
He says some people haven’t accepted the help.
“Our books are open. You know, we have nothing to hide,” declared Humes. “There is no fraud. We do an annual audit as a city already.”
8/4/2015 Related Story: Claremore Residents Shocked Over High Utility Bills
Humes says the average utility bill in Claremore is about $150. He also says some of the information in the petition is inaccurate.
He says the petition mentions a 9.3 percent sales tax revenue the city is receiving when, in reality, the city gets to keep 3 percent of the sales tax revenue it collects. According to Humes, the other 6 percent is given to the state and county.
“This comes with public services. We are under a microscope, we are in a glass house, and we expect the public to keep us on our toes and that is not a bad thing necessarily,” stated Humes.
Regardless, many residents still want answers.
“I have friends that moved out to the country and, you know, out of the city, and their bills are a quarter of what I have got,” said Dawson.
“If I’m wrong, I’m willing to say, ‘Okay, I apologize,’ but I would rather see it checked than not checked,” said Dennis.
Taylor says she still needs about 300 more signatures. She is planning to take the petition to Oklahoma City on Thursday.