City Takes Steps Toward Sewer Project
PADEN CITY – City Council approved plans Monday for Mayor John Hopkins to begin processing the paperwork needed to secure a $3.9 million dollar sewer project.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded the city a $471,000 grant that will require about $3.4 million more in low-interest loans.
City Record Tami Billiter estimated the bond payments nearly $12,000 per month. She said the best case scenario is that City Hall could begin the bidding process in March for the job and possibly break ground in June. The project would include necessary repairs to storm sewer lines and related sewerage system infrastructure.
In other matters, Hopkins announced that the city’s municipal election will be June 2. The candidate filing period for mayor and three council seats began Tuesday and ends April 8.
The Tyler Star News will print the names of candidates as they file for office in subsequent council articles.
In other business, council approved plans to advertise for a new police chief in the wake of Joseph Richardson’s termination as police chief in January. Richardson was suspended as police chief in October pending the outcome of domestic battery and unlawful restraint charges in Tyler County Magistrate Court. For more information, see a related story about Richardson on page 5.
Currently, Tim Shreve is serving as the city’s acting police chief.
And, the state will be conducting a standard annual audit of the city’s books in the near future. Hopkins said he welcomes the audit because private practice accountants have been reluctant to conduct municipal audits because of they are less profitable.
During Public Works Superintendent Josh Billiter’ report, he touched on many issues arising from the city’s infrastructure. He asked council to consider purchasing water meters in the future.
“I know that everyone expects higher bills because of meters, but to the contrary,” he said.
Billiter said meters will help with control of water theft from former customers, make it easier to enforce an ordinance related to filling a swimming pool and decrease electric and other utility costs.
“Customers will have to become more conservative with their water,” he said.
Billiter said the pros of installing water meters include easier reading from radio meters and also the possibility of more state funding for water projects. The cons would include a possible increase in paperwork that would be filed with the state, changing broken meters, billing confusion and potential installation costs.
Billiter discussed the city’s deteriorating infrastructure as it relates to pipes and valves utilized by the water system. He said the city workers can not shut down sections of the city, so the whole grid is affected when repairs are made to water lines. Billiter mentioned the problems facing Flint, Mich.
“Paden City is in a similar situation,” he said. “Our treatment process has not changed, but with the constant threat of having the aquifer be contaminated by all the fracking, what are our options?”
During Billiter’s remarks about the city streets, he mentioned the Tyler Star News’ front page headline “Snowpocalypse” as it related to snow removal. Crews worked long shifts to accomplish their tasks. He said city crews worked in excess of 30 hours during Winter Storm Jonas. Billiter said the city’s snow removal equipment is aging and crews need extra equipment.
Billiter addressed Solid Waste Services’ proposal for a $10 garbage rate increase that is under consideration by the state’s Public Service Commission. Instead, Billiter advocates purchasing a garbage truck and hiring three employees for trash pick-up. He said locally managed trash pick-up is “a very plausible investment” based on preliminary numbers and a comparison with Sistersville.