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Salem, Mo. officials work to restore community confidence through audit of meters and utilities billing

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 9:40 PM CDT
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SALEM, Mo. (KY3) - Nearly two years ago the city of Salem installed new meters and with them, some customers say came higher than usual tabs for electricity and water. City leaders are working to resolve these issues once and for all.

“My bill’s been about the same as it has ever since I’ve been living here. I don’t have any complaints,” said Roy Raultson.

He says even though he may not have received utility bills he still made sure to make monthly payments.

“I just tried to find out what was going on and do the best I could to keep me from getting into trouble,” he said.

But some say they were caught off guard with the billing issues and high cost of utilities since the city installed new water and electric meters at the end of 2018.

“Ultimately we want to provide the best service to our customers and we want to improve the processes and procedures,” said Salem Alderman Shawn Bolerjack.

But that, according to some utility customers, hasn’t always been the case.

Officials say in an effort to be more transparent with the community they’ll be hiring an independent firm to not only make sure the meters are working correctly but that the billing system is accurate.

“The primary goal of this audit is to identify inaccuracies, to correct any problems or process failures, and ultimately to restore customer confidence in the city’s utility billing system,” explained Bolerjack.

He says there have been some improvements.

“We’re finally caught up. We’re billing for the most recent consumption. I think that with the change in leadership, the new mayor, and new faces on the board of aldermen they’re seeing changes. They have trust in us I believe,” he said.

He believes the audit will finally put the utility billing concerns to rest.

“It’s been a long journey. We’re ready to move forward ourselves,” said Bolerjack.

Raultson says it may help ease community concerns.

“If that’s the way to please the people of the city then yes,” he said.

Salem’s board of aldermen still has to sign off on the audit firm’s proposal for the work that needs to be done.

If approved it could be months before the process is finished.

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