Whitesburg water customers with accounts more than 60 days past due will have to pay up or have their water turned off beginning on July 1.
At its June meeting Tuesday night, the Whitesburg City Council voted to pass a motion made by Councilman James Bates that says customers with accounts more than 60 days delinquent will be disconnected and service not restored until customers pay the full amount owed.
Bates told the council he made the motion after looking at a detailed copy of the city’s Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget that showed more than $100,000 in delinquent water bills, with some customers as much as $18,000 in arrears. The original motion called for a 90-day period before service was terminated, but Mayor James Wiley Craft asked Bates to amend the motion to make the period 60 days before service is terminated.
Councilman John Williams asked if it would be possible for people to have service restored if they came in and agreed to make payments to take care of the bill, but both Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill and City Clerk Garnett Sexton said this has been tried in the past and that most people only made a few payments and then lapse back after their service was restored. The city will advertise the policy for two weeks beginning June 15 and will begin cut-offs on July 1.
Caudill also said that a “certain fire department” has been taking water from fire hydrants in Mayking without authorization and without paying for the water. Caudill said the water is probably being used to fill swimming pools, and said the charge is usually $150 per pool. He said that stealing water is bad enough, but added that taking that much water out of the system causes additional problems. Councilman Williams, a member of the Whitesburg Volunteer Fire Department, said that theft is theft and Mayor Craft said the city will prosecute water theft.
Caudill also told the council that a section of city water line that has stretched and been warped crossing the Kentucky River near the Craft’s Colly Bridge at Ermine is still intact although it will eventually fail. He also said that the warranty on several pumps that serve force mains and manholes has expired and in the future the city will have to bear the cost of repairing them.
In other business, the council voted unanimously to accept the second reading of the Fiscal Year 2013-14 budget. The city’s non-water budget calls for revenue of $1,090,500 against expenditures of $1,090,500. The water budget calls for total resources of $1,517,346 with estimated revenue of $1,517,346, which includes a carryover balance of $159,174.
Whitesburg Police Chief Tyrone Fields presented a certificate of merit to Officer Alicia Congleton for her outstanding efforts in the recent Click it or Ticket Campaign, which he said is part of the National Highway and Safety Administration’s Safety Kick Off for Safety Campaign. Fields said Officer Congleton wrote more seat belt and child safety restraint violations than any other officer. He also told the council that he has just completed a Child Safety Seat Tech course and that he intends to hold monthly sessions where he will examine the child safety seats of anyone who is interested, to make sure they are correctly installed. Fields said he will also conduct a two-hour session at the city’s July 4 celebration to examine child safety seats at the City Park, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., and will be glad to look at anyone’s child seats if they call ahead at City Hall and make an appointment.
Chief Fields also thanked local businesses for their support of the department’s efforts to obtain a police dog and said Officer Henry Day spent three weeks training in Kansas City, Missouri to work with the dog. Fields said the dog is a black German Shepherd that is two years old and was born in Germany. He said the dog has already earned his keep by sniffing out Mexican “black tar heroin” during a stop on the city bypass. Mayor Craft pointed out that the drugs were hidden in the door panel and probably would not have been found without the dog. Fields also said the dog sniffed out some pot plants and also found pills in another incident, although he said he has never heard of a dog that could sniff out pills before.
“Apparently this is a pill sniffing dog,” said Fields. “I appreciate our local businesses for helping us do this.”
Whitesburg resident Robert Wagner addressed the council with several concerns. Wagner said the sign at Dayton Avenue has been down for quite a while and was recently removed. He also said several potholes on Maple Street need to be repaired, and that dilapidated heavy equipment on property in West Whitesburg owned by Don Ison is an eyesore.
Mayor Craft said he will see that the sign is replaced and that the potholes are the result of repairs to city water lines. Craft said they will be filled as soon as local blacktop plants open. He added that he has spoken with Ison and said some equipment has already been removed.
Letcher County Central Archery Coach Michael Sexton asked the council for permission to hold a fund raising roadblock this weekend to support the archery team as they travel to St. Louis for the world competition. The council gave Sexton permission to have the roadblocks at the red lights at the high school, Pine Mountain Junction, and Rite Aid.
In other council business:
• The council agreed to continue their support for Kids’ Day in Whitesburg.
• Mayor Craft told the council that Kinzer Drilling has donated 64,000 pounds of rubber mulch to be used at city parks. He added that Kinzer asked for a one-year extension on a right of way lease to cross city property. The council unanimously approved the extension
• The city July 4 celebration will feature Kaitlyn Good of “American Idol” as the early performance and the second show will be the house band at B.B. King’s Memphis club.
• City stickers will go on sale July 1. Stickers are $8 each and two for $15.
• The Relay for Life will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the City Park and will last all night.
• The Downtown “Summersburg” Festival, sponsored by Whitesburg bakery “Here Comes the Bun,” will be held this Saturday (June 15) from 2 until 9 p.m.. The event will be a block party featuring fun, familyfriendly events and games, a pie-eating contest, and music by local talent.
The event will be held on Main Street in Whitesburg. The street will be closed to traffic with parking free at the city lot.