FILLMORE -- Problems with collecting utility bills has the Fillmore Town Council looking for new solutions to solutions to the town's budget shortfalls.
Town attorney Mary Russell told the town council at its July 7 meeting that leniency on water and wastewater billing issues has likely cost the town serious money. She is in the process of writing new utility policies that should help the town's enforcement power.
"I think the town's losing money because you don't have the right ordinance," Russell said. "I think over time the town ahs been very tolerant of casual payment. This (ordinance) will make it less casual."
Russell advised the councilors to review the ordinance she had drafted and then to schedule an executive session to review the policies in more detail.
In a related issue, the town has been having trouble with residents parking on top of water meters. The council reminded residents that if this happens and the town can't get to the meter, the car will be towed at the owner's expense.
Councilor Tami Parker also brought up the issue of a utility board. The council has the ability to either act as its own utility board or to appoint another body that reviews utility issues prior to them coming before the town council.
"We have some people interested because everybody knows this is a big issue for the town," Parker said.
The council will review the issue, along with the revised utility ordinance.
Further review is also in order for revisions to the nuisance ordinance, which will also likely be discussed at an upcoming executive session.
One amendment Russell recommended for the current ordinance is requiring grass be kept below eight inches in height. Violators will receive one warning letter via certified mail before the town has the yard mowed at the owner's expense.
In the interest of having more money available for capital improvements, the town passed a cumulative capital development ordinance. The ordinance establishes a capital improvement plan for the town and also starts a cumulative capital development fund.
The money for the fund comes from property taxes, by adding an additional $.05 tax per $100 of assessed valuation of property.
In addition to establishing the fund, the ordinance makes the town eligible for County Economic Development Income Tax money for capital development.
The board approved both the ordinance and the capital improvement plan, but the issue must still go before the Department of Local Government Finance for approval.