The revelation that three New Albany employees and a member of the Board of Alderman had been given special treatment in the handling of unpaid utility bills should concern all city residents.
The Gazette reported last week that the four individuals had paid up $12,000 in back bills. Alderman Tommie Beasley owed about $5,000, Building Inspector/Zoning Administrator Mike Armstrong owed about $3,500 and two police officers owed $2,500 and $1,300.
Mayor Tim Kent said that the four were behind in payments when he took office, and he told former Light, Gas & Water Manager Harold Smith “that it had to be straightened up.”
The mayor said he learned recently that the four had been allowed to fall behind again without having their utility service cut off.
The last catch-up payments were made after the Gazette began asking questions about the situation.
All of this concerns us. We think government – local, state or federal – must take care to be certain that public employees receive no favoritism or special treatment because of their position.
In fact, they should be the role models for the rest of us.
We are disappointed in these individuals. They should know better.
That doesn’t mean we think the city utility department should take a hard line, willy-nilly cutting off people during summer heat or winter freezes who are having difficulty with their bills.
New utility Manager Bill Mattox has the right idea: firm, but fair.
But the same standard should apply to all customers. Who you know, or who you are, should not be a factor.