A higher water bill, a complaint, and then a ‘gift from God’
By Bobby Bryant
Angry about her suddenly-higher water bill, she called the mayor – and he came over with a small tractor and fixed holes in her driveway. It wasn’t what Marie El, 73, of Darlington expected from a small Southern town after decades of living in New Jersey. “This is a gift from God, you know,” she said of her encounter with Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd. “It was real, real nice. How often is somebody going to come (do that)?” She said the story began about three weeks ago when she received her monthly city water bill, reflecting rate increases approved a few months earlier by City Council. “My bill was $102. It would usually be $50 or $60.” It wasn’t clear why the bill was that much higher, since the city’s rate hikes were $9.55 a month more for a typical residential water customer, $6 a month more for the cost of trash pickup and $2.50 a month more for residential customers’ stormwater fee – all totaling about $18 more per month, assuming water use stayed the same. El called the city about the bill, then the mayor. “I was a hot sister, too! I was hot.” As they discussed the bill, Boyd mentioned the city’s problems with potholes and sinkholes, and she mentioned having several pretty big holes in her driveway, where the pavement had eroded away to mostly earth. “He said, ‘Where do you live?’ ” Not long afterward, El said, Boyd stopped at her house with a small tractor and filled the holes for free. “He went out of his way for me, didn’t charge me nothing,” she said. She said she now feels a little better about the water bill.