News

Snow results in estimated utility bills in boro

Written by Staff report/Chambersburg Public Opinion | Jan 26, 2016 8:48 AM
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(Photo: iStockphoto)

(Chambersburg) -- One of the side effects of this week's record snowfall may be the impossibility of meter reader personnel to read utility meters on a timely basis, according to Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill. 

However, Chambersburg has an existing policy for circumstances such as this, which will allow utility invoices to be mailed at regular times.

"Currently, we are experiencing extreme difficulty when attempting to access customer utility meters given the large amount of snow," Finance Director Jason Cohen said. "We need to protect our meter readers from injury and climbing over snow piles is not advisable."

The borough council adopted utility rules allowing the borough to estimate utility consumption for all accounts when reading a meter is not possible. This will be done for those meters scheduled to be read through at least Jan. 29.

"While we hope to resume reading of utility meters as soon as possible, in order to issue utility bills based upon actual consumption, our ability to do so is largely predicated on our residents' efforts to provide unobstructed access to utility meters," Cohen said.

Stonehill also said, "given the circumstances, providing unobstructed access to utility meters is not citizens' first priority after a blizzard. I certainly understand they will need time to move this snow. We are struggling ourselves to keep ahead of the unbelievable quantity of snow that fell over the weekend."

Cohen added "while it is understandable that snow removal efforts may take some time, in order to provide accurate and quality service to our utility customers, we are asking that all utility customers attempt to provide access to utility meters/remote reading devices by February 1, 2016."

As stated in Chapter 2 of the borough's officially adopted Utility Service Manual, "They (customers) must maintain a safe passageway for meter access by the Borough. Additionally, they (customers) have the responsibility to keep the meter free from obstructions by restraining pets or by removing obstacles that the Borough might encounter at that property."

Chambersburg will make sure they only estimate bills if necessary, and they do not want the bills to be inaccurate. The borough staff is committed to reconciling the accounts with accurate information once the meter can be reached.

Stonehill added that "in cases where an estimate generates an overcharge, the customer's account is credited the difference with the next actual meter reading."

Council President Allen Coffman added that "the cooperation and assistance of our residents under these circumstances is greatly appreciated and we will attempt to return to normal meter reading operations in the weeks to come."

*This article comes to us through a content-sharing partnership between WITF and theChambersburg Public Opinion.

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