At its Jan. 11 meeting, Pearland City Council approved the creation of an ad hoc citizens committee focused on utility billing.
The committee is to be made up of eight community members, who represent a mix of business owners, people with experience in utility billing issues and ordinary citizens, according to Mayor Kevin Cole and council. The committee members were chosen by Cole and Council Members Trent Perez, Tony Carbone and Adrian Hernandez, who did a public callout to the community for potential committee members.
The committee is one of the ways the city can rebuild trust with the citizens after a 60-day lag in water billing came to light in February 2020, council members said.
The committee will review and discuss different parts of utility billing, including the 32/30 billing plan—the city’s plan to collect the money that is owed due to the original lag in billing—as well as the Raftelis Consulting Group report and the city’s new water meters.
The group’s structure allows the citizens to offer comments and recommendations to council on the Raftelis report as well as on the things the report does not cover, Cole said.
“One thing that the Raftelis report really didn’t dive into is the infrastructure around utility billing,” Cole said.
Council decided to amend the presented motion to require that the committee only exist for six months, that recordings of meetings are posted 72 hours after the meeting to the city’s website and that notice of a meeting is posted at least 24 hours in advance of a meeting.
“I think it’s all about transparency,” Carbone said.
The committee will be required to meet once a month at minimum, and at least six of the eight members must vote for an item for it to be formally recommended to council.
Council named Steve Saboe the committee chair. Other members of the committee include Jimmy Davis and Denise Hewitt, both of whom have been publicly vocal on water billing issues in the city.