Water issues ongoing for Russellville council into 2019
RUSSELLVILLE -- Though it is anticipating new construction work and improvements in 2019, The Russellville Town Council is still working through a persistently high usage of the town’s water utilities.
With Jim Davis and Town Attorney Stu Weliever absent at the first meeting of the year, town officials focused much of their attention to addressing water loss and a continuing interest in the usage by Cash Concrete. Both issues seemed to be connected Tuesday evening when it came to the amount of water being used.
Clerk-Treasurer Martha Mandleco opened by providing that the town saw a 113,600-gallon loss during the month of December. Mandleco then pointed to the amount of water used by Cash Concrete from Christmas Day until Jan. 9, which rose from 110,000 gallons to 160,000 gallons.
Mandleco acknowledged that she saw an issue before the end of that 15-day period. Co-Alliance was brought in on Jan. 2 to survey the town’s fire hydrants for possible leaks. It was found by the person “listening” to the water meters that the one used by Cash Concrete was “gushing,” but then was turned off. This traced the increase to the site.
Council President Cary McGaughey posited that the amount of water was so high because it was possible that a float valve at the site had gotten stuck. Board member Cathy Jones further said it was possible that Cash Concrete had been filling up a water tank, but forgot to turn the water off. The point was still that the water loss was not caused by a leak.
While that issue was effectively explained, the discussion stayed on potential lost revenue when the board touched on the ongoing debate on transferring water utility cost to a metered rate. Cash Concrete, along with Co-Alliance, an apartment complex and the Russellville Community Center, currently pays a flat rate, but has consistently used much more water.
Mandleco said a rate study would have to inevitably be carried out before the council could decide in a vote. Though Cash Concrete has been the focus of the issue, the council has acknowledged that a metered rate would have to be instituted for the other three spaces as well. Further, public hearings would have to held for community members to comment on the change before it is made.
As such, no definite timeline for this has been established, though Mandleco said that the rate study could be done soon. She also said she has been trying to keep in touch with Cash Concrete Vice President Neal Cash about the company’s previous water usage.
The council, acting as the Russellville Water Board, also approved a contract with Utility Management & Construction (UMAC), as well as considered the purchase of a meter reading vehicle from a local resident for $1,000. It was agreed that more information would be needed about its usage and benefit before the purchase could be made.
In its regular business, Cary McGaughey was voted to another term as council president. Stu Weliever was also reappointed as the town’s attorney. Debbie Bartelt was then appointed as Russellville’s four-year representative in the Little Raccoon Regional Waste District. The council also shared the names of the Russellville Community Center’s officers and directors, which remained the same save for Ed McBride now serving as an adviser.
Mandleco also shared with the council that a deteriorating slide at the Community Center must soon be removed from the property. She further said the slide was recommended to be taken as equipment surplus and opened to bids, with the winner assuming the hazards of dismantling it.
Mandleco related that the removal was being demanded by the town’s insurer, Tokio Marine, which deemed the slide to be unsafe for children. No action was taken on the council’s part.
McGaughey and Jones also approved an unchanged contract with the Russellville Volunteer Fire Department.
The council also gave the go-ahead for Mandleco to publish a notice for bids for a new Community Crossings aimed toward repaving roads within the town. The project was approved at the December meeting, and a special meeting will be scheduled to consider the offers which will be collected.
In a public comment, Town Marshal Matt Biggs said the Town of Bainbridge was offering to sell a 2010 or 2011 Crown Victoria patrol car to Russellville for $1. Biggs said the vehicle was solid and almost fully equipped. The council and Mandleco were concerned about whether the purchase would increase insurance, but felt having a backup car would be a good investment. Biggs said he did not need to have a decision until the town meetings next month.
Before the council was adjourned, Mandleco said she would be traveling with Darrell Wiatt to attend a meeting with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding a new designation of the town as the Russellville Historic District. The meeting was scheduled for Wednesday.
The next meeting of the Russellville Town Council and Russellville Water Board is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Russellville Town Hall.