Bonifay- Many Holmes County residents received an unsettling letter in the mail this week from Gulf Power. It was a notice of a proposed rate increase that, if approved, would raise rates to almost 8%. Gulf Power officials said it was to cover operating costs.
"When I got the letter," Bonifay City Councilman, Robert Brooks recalled, "I said 'uh-oh, here we go. With everything else going on, we're about to have an increase in our power?'"
Brooks' constituents were also concerned.
"Seems like it's extraordinarily high already," Levins said, "then we got a letter in the mail saying it's going up 7.8%. And that's a huge jump for people like us, because we're on fixed incomes. I live alone, Mrs. Finch lives alone. We work, but we're on a fixed income. It's hardship for us."
Levins and Monet Finch, both widows, worked at the county library to help make ends meet.
"I still live in the same house, I still have the same utilities to pay as if I had a spouse, but I don't" Levins said. "So I don't have that income. My income is much reduced when you're just alone."
But in terms of their situation, they were far from alone.
"We do have a lot of retired people in this community," Brooks told us, "a lot of people on fixed incomes. 7.5 increase would have an impact on the way they live."
"Gulf Power is my electric company. There are other ones here, but you don't have a choice. You have to use what services your area" Levins explained.
Brooks recommended the city attorney draft a resolution to send to the Public Service Commission. He said the idea would be discussed at the next council meeting.
"I thought it would be good for us to get in on the ground floor, state our case, see what happens."
Either way, "we appreciate him fighting for us" Finch said.