Elizabeth City woman outspoken about utility problems has power shut off

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) – An Elizabeth City resident, vocal about the city’s utility bill problems, had her power shut off on Friday.

City leaders had pledged that no disconnections were to occur prior to July.

“It was very frustrating,” Sarah Ownley said.

The day before, Ownley said she found a notice on her door claiming “an electronic payment made to the City of Elizabeth City was returned.”

She had received the notice once before in May; both listed the return amount as $328.98 and warned of a disconnection.

Ownley claims she made the payment in February and has no idea why it was returned.

“There were sufficient funds in the account,” she said.

It’s the type of billing confusion citizens have been complaining about for months before council. Ownley is among those active in the group “Enough is Enough with Elizabeth City Utilities.”

While getting things sorted out, City Manager Rich Olson has said no one would face disconnections until July. At a May meeting, he read aloud a memo placed on recent bills: “Bank drafts, penalties, and cut-offs are suspended until July.”

10 On Your Side sent Mr. Olson emails requesting clarification. When asked if he could provide a “statement or explanation” as to why a disconnection occurred, he responded “no I cannot on the record.” We then requested clarification as to what circumstances could cause a resident to face a disconnection prior to July 1. He responded by stating “no disconnections prior to July 1st.”

Ownley told 10 On Your Side she spent all of Friday night without power.

“I sleep with a CPAP machine, so without power, I’m not able to use that and it’s very dangerous to not have that on.”

She told 10 On Your Side she phoned the mayor on Saturday morning and ultimately got hold of Olson. He agreed, she said, to put the power back on.

10 On Your Side asked Ownley if she had personally received any explanation as to why she was shut off.

“They won’t really talk to me.”