Council to hold special utility meeting

Gabriel Adkins

Gabriel Adkins


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Members of  the new Elizabeth City City Council that took office this week apparently don’t want to wait until next month to get an update on city utility issues.

Second Ward City Councilors Anita Hummer and Gabriel Adkins said Thursday that they have called for a special meeting of council on Tuesday. The purpose of the meeting, according to the city’s public notice for it, is to allow council to discuss “the city’s forthcoming utility software conversion options” and “to receive an update on the status of current utility billing.”

“We’re starting our research early,” Adkins explained when asked about the meeting.

Adkins, who is beginning his first two-year council term, said he wants City Manager Rich Olson to report on city staff’s pursuit of a new utility billing system.

Olson has reported city staff are reviewing two billing platforms, one by NorthStar Utilities Solutions and one by Tyler Technologies, and that he plans to present both options to council next month. Olson has so far stopped short of recommending one option over the other, though he’s said Tyler’s software, known as Encode, costs less than Northstar’s but lacks some functions.

Adkins said he wanted to start gathering information sooner than January on the software options, so that the council makes an informed, and not rushed, decision. He also said he wants more information about any lingering issues with utility billing. A constituent who moved to Stockbridge in May claims to have still not gotten utility bills, he said. Stockbridge is the large housing subdivision off Halstead Boulevard Extended in the Second Ward where Adkins also lives.

In supporting Adkins’ call for a special meeting, Hummer said the meeting is meant to be “purely informational,” and will help the council avoid mistakes made during this year’s failed software conversion through Edmunds and Associates.

“I also feel council didn’t get involved soon enough in Edmunds,” Hummer said.

Olson said Thursday he’s worked to keep the council and the public informed about staff’s research into another billing system, and city staff’s review of both systems is still ongoing. He also said he still doesn’t have a written proposal, or an exact price figure, from Tyler yet.

Olson also said he doesn’t know how many councilors plan to attend Tuesday’s meeting. At least five councilors, or four councilors and Mayor Bettie Parker, must show up for council to have a quorum and hold an official meeting.