CLOVERDALE--The Cloverdale Town Council once again started its meeting with a prayer in hopes of fixing many of its ongoing issues, this month by Rev. Bill Purcell of the Nazarene Church.
As the town continues to have issues with money, Deputy Clerk Brittany Duncan came to the board with suggestions on fixing town residents' delinquent bill issues.
After meeting with the Greencastle Utility Clerk, Duncan suggested several changes including stricter rules.
Duncan presented the board with a packet, which includes the balances of all residents with a delinquent balance, some nearly reaching $1,000.
"When I started, the way I was trained is that if they paid part of their balance they weren't eligible for disconnect," explained Duncan. "That's getting us in the hole."
Although, the current customer agreement states that after 30 days the resident will be eligible for disconnect, the town has not been enforcing it's rule.
Duncan suggested to the council that they move to make improvements in the system and follow the model Greencastle currently has.
"Some of these balances have been owed for quite awhile," said Duncan.
Greencastle currently has no payment plans and does not allow balances of more than $5. They also have a different billing system, which Duncan hopes to enact.
"My goal is to save some money," Duncan said.
Duncan plans on comparing prices on Greencastle's current billing system and Cloverdale's.
"This is like moving you into the 21st century," said Town Attorney Alan Yackey. "If you allow that sort of dragging, some people will exploit it. If you threaten disconnect with an appeal, you're going to get your bills paid."
Another issue, the town is facing is renters running out on unpaid bills. The town agreed to allow Keystone to act as its collection agency.
Keystone will try to track down those who have run out on their bills, however if the town receives its money the company will take a percentage.
Currently, if a renter runs out on their bills, the landlord is stuck with the balance. Some towns, including Cloverdale require the landlord to just pay the sewer portion. However, many feel it's unfair.
The town is now requiring a driver's license while signing up for new bills and will be looking into raising the deposit fee in the coming months.
Clerk Treasurer, Cheryl Galloway also updated the council on several items that are in need of replacement or upgrade.
The contract for the intrusion alarm at the water plant has expired. After calling several local companies to find a replacement, the town decided to go with Endeavor Communications. The cost of the new system is $241.69 with a monthly charge of $24.95.
In the coming months, the town will also be installing security at the lift stations, Brett Shruig is currently pricing them and is expected to present the council with his results during next months meeting. Council will also be looking at replacing the cameras along the Town Hall in the coming months.
Utility Manger Rich Saucerman presented the board with his monthly update. Saucerman looked for approval to purchase new radios as well as funding to change radio frequencies.
By 2013 all radios must be switched to narrowband. The cost to change the two licenses over is $185 each.
The council approved Saucerman for the cost of the liscensing. They will be looking to add new radios in the next month as soon as Saucerman gets a few quotes.
Saucerman also hopes to do hydrant flushing within the next coming months, but will be waiting for the drought to end.
"I don't really want to get something started that we can't stop," said Saucerman.
Although, the hydrants were not flushed last year because of the standpipe project, with the dry conditions, Saucerman is concerned that if they were to flush the lines they may shift causing them to break.
The dry conditions seem to not have affected the water wells as of yet. Although, the static level has dropped off slightly, the levels appear to be okay.
Saucerman suggested to the council that the wells would need cleaning in the near future. The town is also having an issue with flood plane insurance. Due to missing the date to file the proper paperwork due to the town meeting not falling during the proper time period, Cloverdale is currently suspended from filing for insurance.
"It's in the works," said Building Inspector Mark Cassida. "We are trying to get finalized plans."
People within the flood plain have been receiving numerous letters stating they need the flood plain insurance, but due to the suspension all insurance companies will not write-up a policy besides the bank, which is charging an increased rate.
The issue of the Branneman property was once again brought up during this month's meeting.
Richard Branneman has come back to the council with another figure in mind, $28,000. The previous figure of $183,612.41 was for a 400x400 piece of land around the wells. However, after a recent survey the land occupied is actually 450x450.
"This is an issue that has been going on for 38 years," explained council member Gary Bennington. "This takes care of the extra land and some of his crop loss over the years."
The council decided to talk about the issue during an executive session to determine what its course of action will be.