Fillmore water rates to rise

Monday, September 11, 2006

A 23 percent rate increase is coming for water bills in the Town of Fillmore.

The Fillmore Town Council learned during its Saturday morning meeting that the town's water bill will be increasing by 23 percent, in addition to the rate hike being added when the City of Greencastle raises its rates.

Town attorney John Zeiner informed the council that after the talks with representatives from consultant H.J. Umbaugh, the town's water bill will increase by 23.5 percent. That figure does not include the Greencastle water bill increase. Fillmore purchases its water from Greencastle.

"So we have to raise it (the water bill) 23 percent," asked council member Curt Leonard, "and then when Greencastle raises it, we have to raise it again?"

Zeiner said the Greencastle increase would only be a small amount on top of Fillmore's increase.

"This is going to get ugly again," said Leonard.

Albert Epple said that the town is still trying to catch up to the three times Greencastle raised the water bill and Fillmore did not.

According to the Umbaugh study, Fillmore has been operating in the red for the last three years on its water rates.

Zeiner said, "If you look at some of these other communities around us, we're not that poor. We're not at the top of the list and we're also not at the bottom."

Town resident C.J. Huller asked the council if it had ever looked into a water and sewer system for the town. Zeiner said that Midwest Engineering performed an investigation on Fillmore's own water and sewer system. Their report said the cost for the project would be at $2 million. This would =cause the water bills to increase eight times what they are already at. Utility plants should only be built if the town is anticipating growth.

The council has agreed to continue looking at this idea and several other options. Currently, Fillmore's water bill is going to increase by $7 before the Greencastle increase. After the Greencastle increase, the bills increase by another $3, making the total increase to $10 for Fillmore water customers.

The council also heard another incident involving the town's water. Huller informed the board that he and his wife were gone for eight days and he had everything shut off in the house, but he was still charged for using 20,000 gallons of water. He said he usually uses only 6,000 to 7,000 gallons and asked the council if there was anything that could be done about his bill.

He also said that water superintendent David Gilley did check the meter, which was not running, and there were no leaks present.

Town clerk/treasurer Maxine Davis told the board that this was the first time something like this has happened, but another resident, just down the street from Huller, was charged for using 35,000 gallons of water.

The council agreed it was hard to do anything and know what to do without any evidence. Epple said, "Wish there was something we could do."

Epple also said that he would be contacting the meter company to double-check the issue. Leonard made the suggestion that the next time the Hullers leave again to just have Gilley come by and turn off the meter.

Huller said if it did happen again, he was going back to using his well.

In other business, the council:

-- Asked sewer supt. Joe Cash to cut back the bush and trees on Cemetery Road. It is causing a road hazard. He is also digging trees out some of the sewers.

-- Approved an application from Marshal Tom Helmer for a reserve position.

-- Considered a curfew law for the young children in the area. There is no state ordinance for a curfew, and Cloverdale is looking into establishing one. The council agreed to allow Helmer and Zeiner to look into curfew ordinances.

-- Learned a representative from Black Diamond came down and said they could patch the holes on Westwood. Leonard suggested spending the $16,000 on the patch job while spending whatever was left on paving Main Street starting down in front of Fillmore Elementary. A representative from Black Diamond would be getting back with the council on the topic.

-- Learned there was a home in violation of the weed ordinance. Leonard informed the council that many neighbors had complained the weeds/grass which was standing at knee height. Zeiner suggested that Davis write a letter of notifying the homeowner, they are in violation of the ordinance.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is set up for Saturday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. This meeting is open to the public.

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