Obion resident frustrated by water bill

Obion resident frustrated by water bill
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
A two-hour long Obion City Council meeting Monday night covered a wide range of topics, from Christmas bonuses to insurance matters to water system problems to a new utility policy to the sale of a piece of city property.
The first half hour of Monday night’s meeting was spent dealing with a complaint from Patti Jennings concerning her water bill. Mrs. Jennings lives at 516 Lovelace Road, northeast of Obion, and has been paying her rural water bill as part of a three-way split involving two neighbors. That three-way agreement was recently dissolved and Mrs. Jennings said her water was cut off without notice. She said getting her water reconnected was a frustrating ordeal, which was followed by even more frustration caused by a water leak that left her with a $325 water bill earlier this month.
She also reported to the council that her water meter shows she has used about 29,000 gallons of water in a 15-day period. Mrs. Jennings described in detail, using notecards, her situation and claimed she was not shown “common courtesy” by city clerks who handled her ordeal.
Mrs. Jennings and the board discussed the water leak problem in great detail before the board tabled the matter.
Council member Mike Miller described the ordeal as “an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
Mrs. Jennings said she is trying to contact the Tennessee Valley Authority, whom she said is responsible for causing the leak in her water line. Once a settlement is reached between Mrs. Jennings and the TVA, the council is expected to revisit the issue.
Settling the controversy with Mrs. Jennings appeared to set the tone for the remainder of Monday night’s meeting. Council members tackled a relatively lengthy agenda with considerable discussion.
The council approved $100 Christmas bonuses for full-time city employees and $75 bonuses for part-time employees. It was also decided by the council to shut down City Hall Dec. 23 and 26 for Christmas.
The council discussed at length a liability and workers compensation policy for the city before tabling the bid from Terry Insurance. Peggy Terry, representing the Obion insurance agency, will meet with city officials during the next few days to find ways to lower the premium for the insurance coverage.
Her bid for liability and workers compensation coverage increased from $51,810 in 2011 to $71,633 in 2012. City officials hope to lower the premium by making some adjustments in the policy. The council will meet in a called session at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 to consider a revised insurance bid from Ms. Terry.
Public Works director Randy Evans appeared before the council again Monday night with a good news/bad news scenario for the city’s water department.
He advised the council no immediate action will be needed to repair serious problems with the water system. Evans said he will meet with council members when a new city budget is being drafted next year and will present a two-year plan to bring the water department into compliance, thus saving the city money in the long run.
But then Evans hit the council with the bad news that the city’s No. 1 well was recently “pulled” by Campbell Well Drilling and the well’s pipe system is “completely eat up.”
Evans described in detail the deteriorated condition of the well’s pipes and said the problem involves a “stray electric current” that is destroying the well.
“It’s a mess,” Evans told the council.
He said an original estimate of $10,000 to repair the well system is going to be too low. Evans said he is working on identifying the source of the electrical problem and hopes to be able to repair the well pipes. He estimated the cost to drill a new well would exceed $100,000.
Evans’ bi-monthly reports to the council concerning the decaying condition of the city’s water system continue to be a source of obvious concern among council members.
In other action Monday night, the council:
• Voted to forgive delinquent property taxes owed on a piece of property at 224 Broadway St. recently purchased by Jay Cryer at a county tax sale. There was about $2,200 in back property taxes owed on the property, but it was apparent Cryer was unaware of the delinquent taxes owed on the property.
• Approved on the first of two readings a new utility policy for the city. The ordinance introduces new gas connection fees for city residents. The vote on the new utility policy was 6-1, with Mayor Glen Parnell voting against the ordinance.
• Approved selling a piece of property at 105 North Second St. to Sam Cole for $2,000. His was the lone bid for the city property and will settle about $1,400 from a delinquent property tax bill and legal expenses owed to the city.
• Agreed to purchase a new ice machine for the Obion Community Center and will seek bids for a second ice machine that will be installed in the Public Works building.
• Tabled a proposed new debt management policy. Council member Bob Anderson requested the issue be tabled to provide him more time to review the policy before voting on it.
Monday night’s meeting was opened in prayer led by council member James Depriest and the Pledge of Allegiance led by  Parnell. Published in The Messenger 12.7.11

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