Town resolves utility bill issues

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CLOVERDALE -- The Town of Cloverdale finally resolved issues surrounding utility bills when the Town Council unanimously approved amending Ordinance 2016-18 with the addition of policies and procedures written with landlords’ input.

“This agreement looks much better,” Russ Monnett, a local landlord, said. “I’m happy; I just wish we could have gotten here without playing the blame game for the landlords to get to that point.”

“I agree,” Clerk-Treasurer Cheryl Galloway responded.

“Did it start off wrong? Absolutely,” Town Manager Wayne Galloway added. “But we still came to the same conclusion. It’s the not town vs. the landlords or the landlords vs. the town. It’s the tenants that’s taking off and leaving.”

According to the new policies, a landlord’s name will be included on customer agreement forms, an owner tenant approval form will be required before the start of services and property owners must inform the utility office when tenants are moving in or out (failing to do so will not relieve either the tenant or landlord of responsibility for the bill).

Tenants will not be permitted to make payment arrangements if the landlord has provided a written request, and the bill would be due in full by the shut-off date. Renter utility deposits will be used to satisfy the water portion of a balance first.

In summary, items II and III of the original ordinance were eliminated, while items I and IV were preserved. A full document of the policies and procedures as well as the original ordinance are available at the Cloverdale Town Hall.

The issue of utility bill procedures was first raised at the Oct. 11 regular meeting after a $20,000 write-off in outstanding utility bills from 2009-16 and the need to prevent further write-offs were introduced. Special meetings and several tense exchanges resulted in an agreement to form a committee, consisting of landlords and Vice President Don Sublett, to create a compromise.

In other developments:

-- Ordinance 2016-20: The council was introduced to Ordinance 2016-20, which concerns the amendment of Ordinance 1995-6 to update building standards.

-- Ordinance 2016-21: The council approved Ordinance 2016-21, which authorized the vacating of an alley that runs east to west between the Marathon Gas Station and the Summerfield Nursing Home to Lafayette Street.

-- Ordinance 2016-29: The council approved Ordiance 2016-29, which amended Ordinance 2014-17 to clarify sewer inspections and the installation of backflow preventers, in a 4-1 vote with Gary Bennington opposing. Larry Fidler moved and Vice President Don Sublett seconded.

-- Town hall parking lot: The council approved spending $12,361 to install drainage in the Cloverdale Town Hall parking lot.

-- Water pump station: The council authorized Town Manager Wayne Galloway to look into installing a water pump station near the railroad depot and Interstate 70.

The next Cloverdale Town Council meeting will be Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Cloverdale Town Hall.

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