COVINGTON -- The city of Covington will not be offering senior citizens a discount on utility rates.
Based on research conducted by City Attorney Ed Crudup, such a discount on electric rates could apply only to residents inside city limits who were living there as of March 29, 1973.
"Anybody annexed since then or outside of city limits is not eligible and that tends to in itself create a form of discrimination," City Manager Steve Horton said. "It is not our recommendation that you do some isolated group inside the city based on whatever the city limits were 40 years ago."
There is no prohibition on providing seniors discounted gas rates.
"Why there is a difference I'm not sure, but there is no prohibition in the law or regulation as far as I can determine that would prevent us from offering a discount on gas rates for senior citizens," Crudup said. "Whatever we do has to be system-wide or service delivery area wide."
However, the council agreed at a work session Wednesday not to offer discounted gas rates.
A chart comparing Covington and 10 other natural gas providers provided to the council showed that Covington had the lowest average monthly bills of all providers in January, at $160.37, and the third lowest in February, at $130.70.
"I think it was a good idea, but I think this shows we need to leave it alone," Councilman Chris Smith said, referencing the chart.
Horton also cautioned that, "There might be some political backlash where people who are not 65 and older come up and say, 'You didn't do anything for us.'"
Mayor Ronnie Johnston, who proposed that seniors get up to a 50 percent discount on electric and gas rates, said, "The whole motivation for this process was trying to figure out a way to help folks out. I clearly would not encourage or support anything that puts the city in a legal liability ... maybe this wasn't the best angle."
Johnston encouraged officials to continue to look for ways to help citizens save money.