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Monday, May 2, 2016

Fillmore utility issues remain unresolved

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Assistant Editor

FILLMORE -- High utility costs continue to be one of the main concerns for Fillmore residents and officials. However, uncertainty and disagreement over what to do keep town officials from moving forward.

The town council has been talking for several months about the possibility of metering sewers and of enacting a new water and sewer billing policy.

Both plans of action are in the interest of the town not footing the bill if residents are in fact in the wrong.

The metering of sewers springs from the fact that many in Fillmore are on well water but on city sewers. This causes the problem of knowing exactly how much water is going into the sewers.

In most municipalities where residents are on both city water and sewer, simply the water going into the home is metered and residents are billed for both services based on the amount.

With the possibility of residents on well water -- and instances of sump pumps or down spouts routed into the sewer -- there is no way for the town to know how much water is entering the sewer system.

The current flat rate system for those using well water is simply not working.

Many in town do not believe metering is the answer, though. Reactions ranging from questions of what meters will cost homeowners to direct statements that the town "won't do it at my house" have been expressed at recent meetings.

Besides this, council president Wes Terhune and utilities manager Joe Cash said at Thursday's meeting they are not even sure if the town can meter the sewers.

No move was made, as the issue is still being explored.

A possible new billing collection policy was again before the council and again tabled. The proposal would involve owners of rental properties footing the bill if tenants skip town and cannot be collected from.

The fairness of this policy to the owners has been called into question, but it would also involve the homeowners being sent the bill so they know if tenants become delinquent with their payments.

Cash, who also owns rental property, expressed some doubts.

"I'm just saying if you have bad blood, someone might just turn on the water before they leave and not tell you they're leaving," he said.

Terhune and clerk-treasurer Wanda Seidler told him the town would do everything it could to collect from the tenants before coming to the owners.

"Bottom line, it's just to try to keep the town from eating the water bills," Terhune said.

With disagreement remaining over exactly what to do, the issue was again tabled.

Councilor Alan Jones presented his fellow members with a town sign inventory and update. Under a new state law, the town must replace many of its traffic signs in the coming years.

By January 2015 all stop signs, speed limit signs and warning signs must be replaced with high-reflective models. By January 2018 street name signs and overhead signs must be replaced.

Jones reported the town has 22 stop signs, 25 speed limit signs and 36 street signs. He also suggested that all posts be replaced, as many are bent or otherwise damaged.

The town must establish a sign management plan by Jan. 1, 2012. The council will again discuss the issue and pass the plan at the December meeting.

Once the plan is implemented, Fillmore may apply for grant money to help with the process.

In other business:

* Liberty Industries owner Kurt Clearwaters and Putnam County Economic Development Center director Bill Dory gave the board Liberty's annual tax abatement report.

"I'm pleased to report as the economy has improved, Kurt has been able to call back some of his employees," Dory said.

Liberty currently has 20 employees.

* The council publicly thanked all who were involved in the success of the recent trunk or treat event and of Halloween evening in the town.

The Fillmore Town Council meets at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at town hall.

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