In a meeting Tuesday afternoon, Councilman Rickey Peete met with several executives from MLG&W to hammer out new initiatives that all involved hope will ease some Memphians' high utility bill pains. The first point in the plan will allow leak relief to customers who have experienced higher than normal water billing due to broken pipes and other leaks this winter. The second initiative is a Smart Pay system that will allow customers to pay a fixed utility bill each month. Under this program, MLG&W would divide the total amount a customer pays in a year into average monthly payments. The customer would pay the same amount each month. Any additional money that the customer owes MLG&W would be due at the end of the year. If the customer paid too much, the utility would credit the overpay to the next month’s bill. The most immediately useful initiative is the third plan, which will allow customers who can show a financial hardship to pay the same amount for December and January as they paid for the same months last year. The customer would then have 12 months to pay the balance in installments. All involved stress that this plan will not be available to every MLG&W customer, but that customers will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In particular, MLG&W expects to extend this option to low-income and fixed-income elderly customers. “This does not meant that all bills can be extended over 12 months,” says Peete, “because not everybody needs 12 months to pay their bill. We’re asking that everyone be prudent when applying for this so that we can make sure that the most needy and the hardest hit get the help they need.” Also involved in the design of the three point plan were Council woman Tajuan Stout Mitchell, MLG&W President Herman Morris, and City Council Attorney Allan Wade.

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