Angry residents voice concerns about utility bills outside task force meeting

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COLUMBIA — People grew angry outside the Columbia Mayor's Task Force on Infrastructure Tuesday, pointing to  miscommunication about what would be discussed.

Multiple residents came to the meeting thinking they could vice their concerns over utility bills, but found out the meeting had another agenda.

Columbia resident Jeanette Keeler has gone to the city multiple times to sort out her bills and has had difficulty.

"I'm upset because I've been trying to get my voice heard on the fact that the city is having errors with their utility bills, and it is requiring me to come down here every month to straighten out my bill," Keeler said.

The meeting covered topics ranging from maintenance of existing storm water and sewer system and the downtown electric system as well as the major street plan and transportation infrastructure.

The chairman for the Mayor's Task Force, Tracy Greever-Rice, said the meeting aimed to allow people to voice their concerns on projects throughout Columbia, with a focus on downtown.

Greever-Rice said, when it comes to sewer and storm water systems, the city wants to focus on specific aspects.

"What are we hearing from people about how well their sewer and storm water services are working, and what can the city do to be most efficient, and also in full compliance with environmental regulations," Greever-Rice said.

That doesn't help residents like Keeler who said she has "spent an hour and fifteen minutes one time waiting for someone to answer the phone" to discuss their utility bills.

The press release specifically stated that utility bills were not going to be the topic of conversation for the meeting Tuesday night.