The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Public Works Meeting Discusses Water Issues

by Deb Olson, The Quill

There was a meeting of the Public Works Committee on the second floor of La Harpe's City Hall, Monday, August 29 at 7:00 p.m. Present at the meeting were the three members of the Public Works Committee, David Mershon, Marcia Siller and Greg Wisslead.

City Attorney Diane Diestler was also present as was City Clerk Lucretia McPeak, Aldermen Darrell Kraft and Mike Bennett, were also present, but as they are not members of the Public Works Committee they were not able to speak to the 7 items on the agenda.

Also present were Tim and Monalisa Graves and Quill reporter Deb Olson. Mayor Ryan Kienast and Alderman Ken Foster were not present. The meeting was videoed by Chad Burt.

Agenda items included:

1. Review and discuss City's water and sewer ordinances (including those regarding water and sewer rates), and review and discuss ordinances from other municipalities.

City Attorney Diestler asked the committee members If they understood the current ordinance. In general it was agreed that there are many inherent problems with the statute, especially the fact the paragraphs a and b are contradictory and inconsistent.

It was stated that the largest debt the city has are the water and sewer expenses.

In the month of August $19, 841.31 was collected for water while $11,268,57 was collected in sewer fees.

Asked if this was about average, Tim Graves replied that it was.

Recent minimum fees are as follows:

Water - $19.10

Sewer $12.73

Garbage- $15.60

A total minimum bill would be $47.43. There is a $5.00 late fee if paid after the 20th of the month. There is a $25.00 re-connect fee.

Alderman Wisslead stated that fees should be consistent across the board. This brought discussion of rates charged by other communities as well as whether there should be commercial and residential rates.

The council will consider installing meters for all residents but the owner would be responsible for paying to be connected.

It was pointed out that the nursing home does not fall under the apartment category and should have a meter for whole facility.

This will be brought up in the next Committee of the Whole meeting but no first reading will take place until the next regular meeting.

2. Discuss adopting application form and procedure for water service, including information on property owner (if non-owner occupied) and information on water deposit

The committee was shown a form that could be used for recording owner of property, address, deposit, connection status and how fees were paid.

This will be put on the agenda for the next Committee of the Whole meeting.

3. Discuss collection process and options for bill payment, such as paying bills at bank, online payment, etc.

The city does not accept credit cards as payment. There are problems on how bank posts the date of electronic payments.

4. Discuss hiring full /part time help for the water plant & discuss the possibilities of running the well plant more the reservoir plant until we get changes done with post chlorination.

It was suggested that the employee who replaces Wayne Humphrey could be a part time help with water plant. This will be placed on the agenda for the Committee of the Whole meeting.

5. Discuss water turn off policy for nonpayment- which city officials should get delinquent account list , who should decide what accounts get turned off, exceptions to turn off policy (doctor's note), and carrying out shut off decision.

There is an ordinance in place on how to handle delinquent customers but it is not being enforced. This item needs further discussion.

6. Discuss documents from IEPA

On August 25th a letter was received from IEPA containing notice of intent to pursue action. Levels of haloacetic acids and trihalomethanes have been over the legal limit for several quarters and the city is consider to be non-compliant. The issue needs to be addressed by October 20th

7. Other business - for discussion only.

It was decided to have another Committee meeting on September 6th to discuss IEPA issues.

The meeting adjourned at 8:47 p.m.