Cassville Council changes utility deposit fees

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On Monday night, the Cassville City Council approved the second and final reading of an amended ordinance that will increase deposit fees for water and sewer services.

The change, which will take effect on Sept. 1, will apply to new and delinquent accounts. The change will not impact accounts that are currently in good standing.

The newly amended ordinance establishes the following deposit fee schedule for new accounts:

* $100, residential owner-occupied accounts.

* $100, business accounts with usage that is less than 10,000 gallons per month.

* $50, landlord accounts.

* $150, residential rental accounts.

Commercial or industrial accounts that use over 10,000 gallons per month will be required to submit a deposit equal to the estimated usage for one month.

All users will be billed monthly. Payments are due by the 15th day of the month. Payments not received by the 15th day will be considered delinquent.

Under the new ordinance, a late penalty of $25 will be added to each delinquent bill if payment is not received by 8 a.m. on the next working day after the 15th of the month. The previous penalty fee was 10 percent of the bill.

If a utility bill is not paid by the first working day of the following month, utilities will be shut off until the balance is paid in full. If an account is shut off, the customer will be required to set up a new account and pay the new deposit fee.

According to the amended ordinance, the city can require a deposit of $200 on residential owner-occupied and business accounts, $100 on landlord accounts and $300 on residential rental accounts for any user who has left an unpaid, past due account or had a bad payment history with the city. Bad payment history includes late payments, returned checks or shutoffs within 12 consecutive months.

Landlords will be notified when tenants have delinquent utility bills.

A press release issued by the city on Tuesday, states that the changes are needed because of $16,000 in delinquent accounts.

The newly approved ordinance also authorizes the council to establish a fee for new utility connection services, including setting of water meters and hookup services. The fee will be set at a later date.

The amended ordinance was approved by a three-to-one vote. Alderman Terry Heinz opposed the changes.

The council also approved a $68,684 purchase order for property and liability insurance through Willis Insurance, Inc. The city awarded a three-year bid to the Cassville insurance agency in 2009.

The purchase order included a $873 premium for terrorism coverage. The aldermen voted not to accept the terrorism coverage, which will lower the purchase order price to $67,811.

The council also directed Eugene Dilbeck, city administrator, to review each premium included in the insurance package to ensure all vehicles, equipment and property have the correct amount of coverage.

"It looks like we have comprehensive and collision coverage with $1,000 deductibles on all of our vehicles," said Alderman Jeff Parsons. "Do we need full coverage on all of our vehicles? I think we need to go over this line by line. We need to save all we can save."

Dilbeck plans to enlist staff members to help evaluate the list of items and meet with a member of Willis Insurance to review the premium fees.

In new business, the council approved an agreement with HW Lochner, Inc., which acquired BWR. Lochner will design and engineer a project to improve the runway at the Cassville Municipal Airport.

The city receives around $150,000 in grant funds through the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Aviation each year. The city is given a five-year period to use the money on a qualifying project.

Currently, Cassville has around $50,000 in unused grant money, which will expire on Sept. 1. If the city can show progress on the project, Cassville will receive an extension on the expiration deadline, said Dilbeck.

"We have been working with MoDOT Aviation," said Dilbeck. "We have some serious cracks and seams on the runway that need to be sealed. We have received verbal approval for sealing the runway."

Lochner's design services will cost $14,800. The MoDOT funding requires a 5 percent grant, which means Cassville's costs for the design phase of the project will be $740.

In other business, the Cassville City Council:

* Heard that the city received $114,583.24 in sales tax revenue this month, which is a 2.9 percent increase over the August 2010 sales tax revenues.

* Directed Steve Walensky, public works director, to challenge a $1,463.08 bill from Fedex for shipment of six boxes of meters that were used by Roger Berg, of Olsson Associates, to collect data for the bypass elimination plan.

* Heard that the Infrastructure Task Force recommended the city complete its water meter replacement project as soon as possible to eliminate the majority of the city's water losses. All outdated meters will be replaced by new digital meters, which offer a 20-year lifespan.

* Approved a $5,000 grant match for the Southwest Missouri Drug Task Force.

* Heard that a list of individuals with unpaid court fines will be published in local newspapers next week. Each of the fines are at least 30 days past due, and warrants have been issued for all of the listed individuals.

* Received an update on the Casey's General Store that will be constructed across from Pizza Hut on Main Street. The city hopes to receive engineering and building site plans in the next few weeks. An environmental impact study was completed and showed no flooding issues.

* Received an update on a roof replacement project completed at the public works building. The city sold scrap metal to pay for materials and public works employees installed the new metal roof.

* Heard that a clean-up project will begin on the Greenway Trail next week.

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