|Two weeks ago, The Middlesboro Daily News reported that there would be some restructuring at the Middlesboro office of Utilities, Inc. The paper said that while there “might be some layoffs”, customer service would be uninterrupted. The Clinton City Council heard Monday evening that the Middlesboro office is closing. The Clinton office closed a year ago.
Utilities, Inc. is the parent company of Water Services, Inc., which recently got a 29% rate increase from the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The company has two locations in Kentucky, Middlesboro with almost 9000 customers and Clinton with 900. The multistate water and sewer company is partially owned by AIG (12%).
Fast forward half a month to the Clinton City Council meeting and an announcement that calls to customer service calls will now be answered at the company’s Florida office. The customer service staff in Middlesboro is being laid off.
One of the bright spots during the whole billing debacle and rate increase was the Middlesboro staff of Utilities, Inc. The staff worked with customers to settle billing issues and set up payment plans for those who were overwhelmed by high bills. At the public hearing in Clinton, customers flocked to meet Reba, the Middlesboro customer service rep, whose voice was familiar to all. While the water company is unpopular with local residents in this area, Reba was always exempted from criticism.
The company got its increase. What Kentuckians are getting are pink slips.