Slight water, sewer rate hikes OK’d

Vandalia residents will see slight increases in their water and sewer bills.
Those increases, 1.45 percent for water and 1.71 for sewer, are going into effect in October.
The increases take effect because city aldermen took no action, in effect deciding to let increases in water and sewer production determine whether there will be any increases and, if so, the amount of increases.
That’s because the city council years ago approved an ordinance of that nature. That ordinance was approved after the council put off increases for a number of years, then OK’d a large increase in bills.
The production numbers for the city’s water and sewer departments were created as part of the city’s annual audit, performed as in recent years by Timmermann and Co. Ltd.
After Tricia Elam of the local CPA firm presented those production numbers and proposed increases, Mayor Rick Gottman suggested giving aldermen more time to look over the numbers.
In presenting the numbers, Elam said the firm, as always was recommending that the rates increase in relation to production increases.
“Modest increases every year will help pay the bills and
“We could have a special meeting (before the end of the month), and I recommend that,” Gottman said.
“I do not want to vote on something without really looking at it,” the mayor said.
But, Alderman Bret Brosman expressed a different opinion.
“I don’t think we need to table this action,” Brosman said.
“I was part of passing ordinance 1996-10-7-B which makes the rates flow with the expenses automatically if we take no action,” he said.
“And, I don’t think we need to take any action,” he said.
Alderman Andy Lester expressed his agreement, and with no one making a motion for a special meeting, the 1996 ordinance has the rate increases mirror the production increases.
As part of the audit report, the CPA firm determined that in the past year, the city’s water department pumped 280,571,778 gallons of water and that 244,969,600 gallons were billed or otherwise accounted for.
That’s 87.31 percent of the amount accounted for, up from 77.34 percent the previous year.
In presenting the audit, Elam said, “Overall, the (city’s) funds are in very good shape.”
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• Merrell Collins, chairman of the Fayette County Board’s animal control subcommittee, introduced the county’s new animal control warden/administrator, Lee Kephart.
Kephart said that she has been working with City Attorney Ryan Connor on ordinances governing animal control, including reckless ownership.
• The council approved the transfer of Vandalia Lake lot No. 1A from Daton Scott of Brownstown to Toby Tackett of Brownstown and lot No. 129 from Steve Largent of Vandalia to James Laurie of Vandalia.
• The council tabled a request to close the 100 block of South Fourth Street on the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 25 for a “Christians for America” event held by several area churches.
The agenda for the event includes group prayer and songs.
The request was tabled after Alderman Russ Stunkel said he wanted to make sure the event is non-political, as one of the agenda items mentions the upcoming election.
• The council approved a one-year TIF agreement extension request submitted by Jane Lynn Holdings (The Copper Penny).
The request was made due to “the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic environment.
The project includes tuckpointing and roof work.
• The council approved the transfer of a TIF agreement from Dennis and Debbie Grubaugh to Wait Land Trust (Mr. and Mrs. Tom York) for the properties at 2505 and 2515 W. Veterans Ave. due to the transfer of those properties.
• The council approved an agreement with Fayette County Real Estate for the city property at 119 E. Jackson St.
The property includes a house and land adjacent to the city’s water plant. The city initially planned to build a new water plant on those properties, but has since decided to build the new plant off of Sunset Drive.
Gottman said a lottery was held to determine which local real estate agency would handle the sale of the property, and Fayette County Real Estate won that lottery.
• The council approved the $24,600 purchase of a software system to be used by the Vandalia Police Department and other law enforcement agencies for crime reporting.
The other agencies will share in the cost of that software, based on their number of officers, and VPD Chief Jeff Ray said that he has applied for a grant for the purchase of the software.
The purchase includes computers, maintenance to the department radio, building renovations, office furniture and technical/outside services.
• The council approved the sale by closed bids the following surplus equipment:
• 2000 Pontiac, Michael Harter, $328.88.
• 2005 Ford Escape, Harter, $328.88.
• 2008 Chevrolet Impala, Harter, $528.88.
• 2009 Impala, Brian Wiley, $610.
• 2002 Chevy half-ton pickup truck, Harter, $578.88.
• 1980 International 2-ton flatbed, Lee Logue, $500.
• Vermeer wood chipper, Nick’s Tree Service, $3,500.
• OBD leaf vac, Philip Fiscella, $156.
• Five manual rock spreaders, Dean Larson, $127.
• Assorted truck bumpers, Harter, $158.88.
• Honda trash pump, Larson, $175.
• Ex Mark zero-turn mower, Harter, $178.88.
• Stone compactor, Harter, $58.88.


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