FILLMORE -- Fillmore Town Council members Jeff Osborn, Alan Jones and Wes Terhune are serious about collecting arrearages in water and sewer bills. Last chance arrears letters will be sent to those who still have unpaid utility bills for sewer and water.
Several months ago, the council decided to give people until Jan. 1, 2009 to get bills current. Beginning with the Jan. 20 billing, those with outstanding fees who have not made arrangements with the town will receive letters giving them 10 days to pay or have their water shut off.
"We've had a couple of people come in and pay $1,000 this month to get current, but we still have people who haven't paid out there. Some of them are long gone. I don't know if we'll be able to collect those or not," Town Clerk Wanda Seidler told council members at Thursday evening's meeting.
There are some people in the town who owe $3,000-$4,000 in back bills.
Jones reported to the Council that sewer and water utilities last year came up $16,292 in the negative. The town took in $182,000 for sewers and spent $204,853. In water, they spent $278,000 and took in $295,000.
The continuing problem with sewer costs for the town has led council members to consider moving everyone on to metered water and sewer.
"This is something we are just beginning to talk about," said Osborn. He explained that there is an inequity in what people have to pay for usage, citing the example that many homes use only one unit of water or less, but are required to pay for a minimum of two units.
There is also an issue with people who have sump pumps or wells hooked into the city system.
"They use 1,000 gallons of city water then switch to their well. They pay about $27 for that, but that water and all the well water used go into the sewer and they aren't getting charged for that," explained Jones.
"It's the sewer costs that are the biggest problem," commented one audience member.
Construction owner Steve Bunten questioned having to give up his wells. Terhune answered him, saying wells don't have to go away unless they are being used in homes.
Terhune uses wells and hydrants on his property but they are in use in his barn, not his home.
"They don't go into the sewer system," he said.
Osborn also reported on an engineering study completed recently to study the infrastructure of the sewer system.
Wessler & Associates identified problems with infiltration in the town's sewer system. The study was paid for with a $4,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment. The company used smoke testing on Main Street and Cemetery Road to identify any sump pumps and other problems in the system.
Smoke testing involves blowing harmless smoke into the sewer system to determine the location of connections. Those connections, along with any leaks, were marked.
Several problems were identified with the smoke testing, including one sump pump hooked into the system. The study also provided suggestions for making improvements to the infrastructure.
The study was part of a larger plan that includes improving drainage in the town. Costs are projected to be around $650,000.
The Lilly Endowment money most likely can't be used to repair storm drains, which are part of the problem, so the group is looking at grants from the FOCUS Fund and other possible sources.
A meeting to show the footage from the survey (in a DVD format) will be set up for residents to view. The date and time will be announced soon. It will take place at Town Hall.
Jones reported that most of the 911 address updates are ready. Out of 250 addresses, 120 will be changed.
"There are still a few addresses that need adjusting. House numbers are really messed up in some parts of town," said Jones.
Letters will be sent to homeowners by Emergency 911 with new numbers and specifications about size and placement of the numbers sometime this year.
Bunten brought up a concern with the cost for businesses having to change all their advertising, contracts and stationary with new addresses.
"This can really cost a lot of money," he told council members.
"Not doing it can cost a life. We already had a problem with a man having a heart attack and emergency people couldn't identify where he was. It took over five minutes to find the house because there weren't any numbers on some of the houses and the numbers aren't in order," responded Jones.
The Fillmore Town Council meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.