Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grant City Sewer Fund Declining Rapidly

The Grant City sewer fund is declining rapidly despite a recent raise in sewer rates and the fact that it is taking in $6500 per month. The reason is because of much higher than expected costs for the chemicals that are needed to treat the sewer system. The city had been told by a representative of the current company that they are using that their costs for the first four months they used their services would be around $2500 per month and then go lower after that. However, that particular representative is no longer employed by the company and the city has actually wound up paying around $3500 per month now. The city decided to move salary payments for Public Works Director Carl Staton and some other employees, who are being paid out of the fund, to other funds and to get quotes from competing companies. There have been a lot of water leaks this month; the Rural Water District has had 8-10 leaks while the city has had 3-4 this month. The council renewed their membership in the Great Northwest Wholesale Water Commission for the next three years. The city sold twice as many pool passes as last year. There were 70 kids who took swimming lessons this year and there were people who came from Stanberry and Mount Ayr to use the pool. A volunteer appreciation day has been tentatively scheduled for August 18th. Council members balked at a backdoor tax increase by the USDA, in the form of a rule requiring a 5% late fee for late water payments. As members said, if customers didn’t have the money to pay the original water bill, they would not have the money to pay the penalty as well. That measure was tabled by the council. The city solicited bids for the demolition of the Yetter Building in an idea to get a handle on the cost that would be involved. They received one bid, from J.C. Dirtwork for $26,000, which was a high price tag. Further action was tabled. Council members discussed a situation with donkeys on the north part of town. The donkeys got out one time and they have been making loud noises at around 3 a.m. The owner had been told incorrectly that the area in question was zoned for agriculture. The owner in question has another part of his property where he keeps horses which is zoned for agriculture. Discussion was held about the future of the Code Enforcement Officer. Council members Catherine Runde and Dennis Downing said that they were not seeing sufficient progress from simply writing letters to people. “We’ve been having these conversations the last few years and nothing is getting done,” said Runde. But Mayor Debbie Roach said that if five people got letters of violation and two cleaned up their properties that it was worth it. She said that 11 homes had been demolished since the Code Enforcement Officer’s position was established. Persons who ignore the letters of violation are referred for prosecution. However, that costs $150 per hour, which could add up to thousands of dollars of costs annually for the city. The city cannot simply go onto peoples’ properties and remedy the situation because that would violate basic due process; therefore, they have to go through the court system. Generally, Code Enforcement Officer Patsy Worthington spends 10 hours per week performing her duties enforcing city ordinances. Public Works Director Carl Staton reported that city crews were working on water leaks as well as pipes at the pool and getting the new Casey’s hooked up. The council agreed that the city could wait until the weather cooled before proceeding with construction of streets this year. The city is also holding off on work along the Nature Trail until the weather cools off. Staton reported that there were continuing problems with trash trucks tearing up the streets. The council voted to spend up to $15,000 to spray the streets for dust, which is a problem with the dry weather.

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