Council approves changes to utility policy at Fillmore

Saturday, January 7, 2012

FILLMORE -- With the new year, the town of Fillmore has a new council lineup as well as some minor changes to the town's utility policies.

Back on the council are re-elected members Alan Jones and Tami Parker, joined by Curt Leonard, who previously served eight years in the post and regained his seat in November's election.

Once all three council members and Clerk-Treasurer Wanda Seidler had taken their oaths of office on Thursday evening, the board convened its first meeting of 2012.

Utility charges were one of the meeting's main discussion topics. Utility Manager Joe Cash told the council he had performed a new water installation earlier in the week, and the town's cost to do the work had exceeded its charges to the customer.

Previously, the town has charged $750 for establishing new water service to a location. Cash said this week's installation was more than $800, not factoring in several hundred dollars' worth of material.

Additionally, the cost to the town varies greatly depending on whether the house is on the same side of the street as the water line.

After some discussion, the council established new fees for new service hookups. The cost will be $1,000 for service on the same side as the water line and $1,500 for service on the opposite side of the road.

Cash said the existing rate of $1,000 for new sewer lines is still sufficient.

Later in the meeting, the ongoing topic of a new utility billing policy again arose. The topic has come up for several months -- Town Attorney Mary Russell said she drafted the ordinance last summer -- but no decision has been made.

At issue is what to do when renters leave town without their bills paid. The new policy would put the owners of rental properties on the hook for unpaid bills.

The owners would only be charged after the town had exhausted the avenues of pursuing the renters.

Passage of the ordinance has bogged down several times over questions about the policy and misgivings of some board members.

Leonard expressed no such qualms.

"It's not right for the people of Fillmore to have to pay for somebody else's water," he said.

Jones, in his new capacity as council president, read the ordinance with the intent of voting on it Thursday.

However, Russell found several passages in need of amending. She will redraft the ordinance for February's meeting.

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