City’s action on electric bills is disturbing

Published 8:20 am Friday, January 2, 2009

Dear Editor,

As a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Franklin, I was very disappointed to have received the electric bill letter from our city and Taylor Williams.

As the branch manager of the second largest brokerage firm in America, I find it very disturbing that our city would operate in such a manner. Any business, large or small, in America today that makes such an error would be forced to “eat it.” As an example, if I were to make a trade error in a client’s account, I am responsible for the error 100 percent — not the firm or client — but me.

I applaud the city for having the courage to do internal audits to review its billing practices. From this review, errors and omissions were found that were over two years old. If I bill a client in November 2008 for a transaction dated in 2006, I would end up being embarrassed and lose that client’s trust and therefore the relationship. The City Council has a unique opportunity. It can negotiate a significantly reduced settlement, publicly admit its error and invest fresh capital into proper training of billing associates with updated software. The other option is to “hold the line” and force continued hardship on the many churches and businesses affected in these challenging economic times. I believe the latter would be a public relations nightmare.

In the elections of last May, the people spoke that they wanted a new direction and change in the management of our city’s operations.

By accepting a significant electrical charge reduction, it would send a strong message that Franklin is a business-friendly community and it will strive to put all its citizens first.

Carter Hotchkiss