Town cuts power to eldery woman after dispute over bill

Town cuts power to eldery woman after dispute over bill

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by BILL MCGINTY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @billwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on September 27, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Updated Thursday, Sep 27 at 10:06 AM

DALLAS, NC -- An undetected broken pipe under Reba Gibson’s 107-year-old house in Dallas was a big fix, and as it turns out, very expensive.

Cathy Berry, Reba’s daughter, said there was a leak under the house that went to the water heater.

The family had sticker shock at the water and power bills caused by the broken hot water pipe. In June the bill was $1,096 and in July it was $1,017, big bills for Reba who is 86 and in failing health as she battles congestive heart failure and COPD, after all, her monthly social security income is just $736.

While Reba and the family was struggling to pay, the town of Dallas in Gaston County cut the power and water off this week. And no power, meant no oxygen tube, for 30 minutes. 

Cathy said her mother never missed any of her bills and has been living in her home since 1969.
"It's hard to believe the town would do her like that," she said.
The town administration told NBC Charlotte a warning knock and note was left on the door, but Cathy says that’s not the case. 

And when power was cut, again, the family says no warning, even though the sign on the front door says someone here needs oxygen. 

Cathy said she called the town to work out a payment plan, but says she was told, “that’s not an option."

All she said she got was an extension to next Tuesday to pay off the $884.00 balance. The family is worried the power could and would be cut off again.
NBC Charlotte asked Cathy, if the town knew she was on oxygen? Cathy said, “we’ve told them that, yes.”
NBC Charlotte's Bill McGinty went to the Dallas town hall and  met with the town manager. Officials there told McGinty there was never talk of payment plan, but regardless of that, there is a payment plan now and the deadline of Tuesday is gone.

 In fact, the town manager himself assured NBC Charlotte power to 86-year-old Reba wouldn’t be shut off so long as payments are being made. It means Reba can sleep and breathe, without worry
Because the town determined the cause of the high bills was broken pipes, the utility department knocked off $340.

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