May 05, 2015 - 2:31 PM
PENTICTON - A Penticton woman upset over the idea of being charged a $1 postage cost for mailing her electrical bill decided to do something about it.
Jean Mitchell sent the City of Penticton a letter after seeing the city's April newsletter, where it cited rising postal costs for instilling a postage fee of one dollar to those continuing to receive their bill by mail, effective May 1.
She described the extra billing of $1 to residents receiving their electrical bill by mail as 'a slush fund for council' when she spoke at a council meeting Monday, May 4. She was backed by a full gallery of residents, many of whom applauded her comments during her address.
Mitchell used city figures from last year’s budget showing the city expensed $183,000 to bill customers by mail. She said the city’s uses for that money saved through e-billing 'could be endless,' and called it 'found money.'
She noted many of Penticton’s residents were working poor and seniors who weren’t interested in becoming computer savvy. Using the library to access public computers was often not an option for many because of the public nature of the terminals, she added.
Mitchell also took exception to the way the city introduced the fee, noting in the March newsletter customers were encouraged to sign on to e-billing for conservation reasons.
She said the tone of the message changed abruptly in the April newsletter, referring to its message of 'a politically correct old couple receiving their e-bill and happily paying it online.'
Mitchell said her 243 name petition as 'just the tip of the iceberg' but she did not surrender her petition to council, referring to it as ongoing.
Councillors expressed a desire to eliminate multiple charges for situations where more than one electrical bill arrived at an address, such as in the case of strata units, but few councillors were interested in rescinding the charge.
Coun. Helena Konanz moved to delay the charge for one year, noting the 'community wasn’t ready for it yet,' and not all seniors had access or wanted to use computers for e-billing, but the motion did not receive a seconder.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit noted 'some people don’t want anything to do with computers - this is more about principal than the amount.'
The $1 postage fee will remain in place for people still receiving their bill by mail.
In April, the city announced the mailing fee would be $1, due to increasing postal rates.
Image Credit: City of Penticton
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