Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fiscal Court: Henderson Water customers to see rate increase

J-E News Editor
Webster County Fiscal Court was notified during it’s Monday meeting that residents who purchase their water from the Henderson County Water District will soon be seeing a rate increase.
Pete Conrad, the superintendent of the Henderson County Water District (HCWD) came before the court for the second consecutive meeting with an update on rates. Under new state law, a water district is required to notify the governing body in it’s largest region of service in the event of a rate increase. For HCWD that region would only include Henderson County, but according to Conrad, he felt it was his responsibility to notify all of his customers.
“This is not exactly a rate increase,” he said. “Henderson water (who supplies HCWD’s water) is increasing their rates, so this is really a cost of service increase. The water district is simply passing it on to the customer.” 
Water rates for affected customers will be increasing by $0.02 per 1,000 gallons. The minimum bill for HCWD customers is 2,000, so there will be a minimum increase of $0.04. Conrad said the average residential bill uses about 5,000 gallons, which would mean an increase of just $0.10 per month.
In other news, Judge Executive Jim Townsend reported that recent flooding had led to the collapse of a bridge on Choice Clark Road.
“We had a box culvert to cave in on Friday,” he said, saying that the road department had already put signs up. “I spent about 30 to 45 minutes out there on Sunday looking at it. It looks like flood waters, due to recent heavy rains, got behind the pylons and caused the bridge to fall through.”
The county plans to replace the damaged pylons and reopen the bridge for the time being.
Sheriff Frankie Springfield presented the court with his 2013 Fee Settlements in the amount of $409,253.30.
County Attorney Clint Prow also presented the court with $17,553.07 dollars from the county bad check program.
“We’ve been lucky with our bad check program,” Prow said. “In big counties they say this program has about totally dried up. Everyone there is running check’s electronically. But I’m not sure that anyone in Webster County is doing that yet.”
When a customer writes a bad check, the business owner notifies the county attorney’s office. The person who wrote the bad check is then charged a $100 penalty (split evenly between the business owner and the county attorney’s office). If they fail to pay that penalty within ten days, criminal charges are then filed. This is all in addition to any penalty charged by the check writer’s financial institution.
According to Prow, it is estimated that by the time everything is said and done, a $1 bad check could cost the writer up to $270.
Providence resident Willie Torain attended Monday’s meeting to address the issue of a strong odor that has long been a problem of residents of Westerfield Drive in Providence. It has long been believed by many that a strong sewer odor that lingers in portions of Westerfield Drive is caused by sewage being piped in from Dixon. Last year the county built an filtering station on US 41A in Providence that was intended to alleviate that issue.
“I know you put a pump in, but we’ve still got a smell on Westerfield Drive,” said Torain. “It’s getting ready to get hot and something has to be done.”
Providence Sewer and Water Superintendant Mark Pharris was  also on hand.
“I can tell you, if there is an odor, it’s not coming from the city of Dixon,” Pharris told the court. “It’s either from Providence or it’s from the storm water.”
Pharris said that following recent reports of an odor, city employees went to the area with an electronic sniffer, which failed to detect an odor.
“If you machine doesn’t pick it up and our nose does, something is wrong,” said Torain.
Torain questioned why, if the line from Dixon had nothing to do with it, the smell only occurred in that area. According to Pharris, the volume of sewage in that area is lower than the rest of Providence.
“Anywhere else in the city the sewage gets turned over every twelve hours,” he said. The Westerfield Drive line, which also carries sewage from the Dixon line and another line in Hudson Meadows, simply does not have the same usage as the rest of town.
Pharris invited Torain to meet with him at next week’s Providence city council meeting.