Southwest City Council Tackles Contested Water Bill
Donna Blake appeared before the Southwest City Council last week to dispute a water bill.
Blake said she and her husband, Richard, moved from their property on Bluebird Lane on June 17 but were still sent a bill for July.
Blake said her husband contacted City Hall to notify employees of their impending move and asked that the water meter be turned off at the end of the month. The water meter was read on June 26, and on June 30, the meter was disconnected.
“The previous landowner asked that the meter be turned off at the end of the month and the new tenants asked to activate a new account at the beginning of the month,” said City Clerk Missy Zinn.
Zinn explained that, because the Blake’s account wasn’t disconnected until June 30, they were charged for the four remaining days in the month and their bill was adjusted to reflect the minimum usage fee and the monthly sewer charge.
“Yes, the rate was adjusted,” Donna said. “But why should we pay if the building was not occupied by us?”
After much discussion about which party is responsible for the bill, Alderman Tammie Martin chimed in.
“What do we need to do here?” she asked. “We have residents who have lived in Southwest City their whole lives and they owe the city $27.25.”
Zinn noted the water usage for those four days totalled 200 gallons. The council suggested charging the Blake’s $12 for the minimum usage fee of the first 1,000 gallons.
“If it was someone else, they’d be paying it,” said Alderman Ray Cooper.
The council voted to charge the Blake’s the minimum usage fee.
Mayor David Blake and Alderman Ron Jackson abstained from the vote due to personal connections.
Public Works Director Jackie Coatney updated council members on the recent FEMA visit. He said the city should be fully reimbursed for repair costs on the Honey Creek bridge, but the city may have to foot the cost for repairs on Frye and Liberty roads.
Coatney noted Blankenship Park will be inspected by FEMA separately.
Mitigation representatives will visit Southwest City soon to review possible improvements to prevent future damage.
Alderman Tammie Martin asked about progress on making the Corner Cafe ADA compliant. Coatney and the council discussed working with Missouri Department of Transportation to secure grants that could help improve sidewalks throughout the city.
“We are in desperate need of a sidewalk to get our people from the bridge to Dollar General,” said Mayor David Blake. “There’s not an evening that I don’t see a mother and some kids walking down the road with grocery bags.”
Zinn was granted permission to attend two upcoming meetings regarding roadways and sidewalks in municipalities.
Coatney again brought up the cost of setting a new meter. The city currently charges a new connection fee of $250 — while the equipment costs $370 before labor.
“It usually takes two to four hours of labor, or $300 if you contract installation. But it totals about $500-$600 every time,” Coatney said. “It only happens a few times per year. But, still, the city is losing money.”
Coatney provided council members with multiple setting fees from other fourth-class cities. Prices ranged from $250 to $1,000.
The council discussed the installation of a new light pole behind the Anne Croxdale Memorial Library to illuminate the pavilion and picnic area. The installation is being paid for by Corner Stone Bank. The city is willing to pay for electrical service, but is prohibited from paying the bill if the pole is erected on private property.
Alderman Martin, who works at Corner Stone Bank, said she would convene with bank representatives and update the council.
The family of Lonnie Smith addressed the council about renting the city’s storage building behind City Hall to be repurposed as a gym. The building currently houses unused equipment and miscellaneous items.
Alderman Martin noted the city would need to be released of liability in the event of an accident on the property. No decision was made.
In other business:
The Senior Citizen’s Center will be hosting their annual Spaghetti Dinner and Dessert Auction at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 2.
Zinn reported bringing in $3,000 of revenue by collecting unpaid water debts.