Leachville meter readings questioned

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Leachville Council reviewed complaints with water meter readings along with city repairs, ordinance changes and annexation at the regular council meeting Monday, Aug. 11.

The council reviewed the financial reports and complimented city clerk Ruth Ann Keith on the clarity and neatness of the water department transactions and printouts.

"This really helps us to see what we want to know," Alderman Bruce Wilson said. "It makes our job much easier."

The council discussed readings of city water meters.

"Are all the water meters being read monthly?" Alderman John Stone asked. "I have received about 10 complaints. One resident said his meter is a foot underground. I find it really hard to believe they are being read. I'll bet you can't find 10 percent of the meters."

"I have been told they read them all," Mayor Sheila Spurlock said. "I went out one day with the meter reader (Robert Ballard) and he read every one he came to."

"I don't believe they are being read," Stone said. "There are 768 meters to read. Some have 10-14 inches of sand covering them. I was told the rain washes sand back in the meter holes, but we haven't had rain in quite awhile."

"The meters should be read in a timely manor consistant with the monthly billing process," Alderman Wilson said. "People don't get high and low billings if meters are read properly. My meter has not been read and billing jumps back and forth from $40 to $57 every other month. You can't go from meter to meter and read all 768 meters in three days. I read mine every month and there is very little difference."

"I dug my meter up last month and it had a foot of dirt over it also," Alderman Bill Hetler said.

Mayor Spurlock agreed to check on the situation and report back to the council.

Mayor Spurlock reported the Leachville Industrial Development Committee had paid for repairs on the water and wastewater equipment pump and the sewer machine, totaling $25,000.

No formal Fire Department and First Responder report was presented this month, but Secretary Teresa Johnson gave a brief overview of business transacted.

Police Chief Keith Evans presented the Police Department report for July which listed $2,700 in fine monies deposited in the city's General Fund. Three misdemeanor warrants were served, 11 traffic citations, one DWI arrest plus another one for drugs, 12 criminal arrests and three felony arrests. Auto, office and JAG Grant expenses were listed at $3,739.84.

The Animal Control report listed expenses at $79, with five dogs captured, two surrendered, two adopted and five euthanized.

Dickie Coburn reported 50 fence posts would be replaced at the city's ball park.

Mayor Spurlock reported only one bid had been received for repairs of the wastewater plant and to get it back into compliance. The bid was from C. Baldwin Construction Company for $19,700.

"We need to fix what has to be done," said Alderman Tommy Stone.

"We will be doing this in stages with help from LIDC, as the expenses are for infrastructure," Recorder Keith said. "We may also be able to use grant money."

Spurlock agreed to check with Rick Carter about readjustment of the original grant expenditures.

"Let's don't do anything on the drying beds for now, as they are not cleaned but once a month now," Alderman John Stone said.

The council voted to hire C. Baldwin to do the job.

After a brief discussion, the council tabled a decision to hire Fast Skater Matt Floor Service to strip and wax hallway in the renovated city hall and clean carpets. Company representative Cliff Watson estimated the total cost at $3,800.

The council passed Ordinance 2008-5 on all three readings to annex the Adams Company property, north of town, between Bigg Butts BBQ and the current city limits. The new acquisition will be in Ward One.

The council discussed what to do with defaulted loans to LIDC.

"LIDC wanted our input on whether they should prosecute or ask them to move out," Spurlock said.

"I think they should do whatever necessary to get their money back," Hetler said.

"They should just follow their own guidelines on this," Tommy Stone said. "They are working with a different council now, and I am pleased they want our support."

"They just want to know that we are backing them," Spurlock said.

"Should they use any avenue possible?" Wilson said. "I think they should check with our city attorney on this, and use his advice."

"If they should have a chance at getting their money back in a gainful situation, then they should do it," John Stone said.

The council agreed for LIDC to continue seeking settlement of defaulted loans.

Spurlock presented a payment agreement letter reflecting payments from the General Fund to the Water and Sewer Department per agreement for money borrowed in 2006.

"This is a good idea and shows a good audit trail," Wilson said.

The council discussed replacement of underpinning and tile at the city hall renovation site, estimated by Perry Wood Construction at $6,100. New counter and extra Formica for the water department were estimated at $7,000.

The council tabled the decision in order to check further for estimates or changes before making a decision.

Discussion concerning a proposed street and tree damage near the Sheila Collier home was discussed. The street was proposed but never accepted by the city, and no liability for damages exists.

Alderman Teresa Johnson reported volunteers planned to go down and help cut up and remove the tree.

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