Delinquent utility users defended by councilman

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2004

Despite a city ordinance that requires termination of basic utility services upon non-payment, some members of the Demopolis City Council question the fairness of the idea.

During a special-called council meeting on Wednesday, council members discussed Ordinance 2004-12, which calls for termination of all water, sewer and garbage collection services in the event a customer failed to pay for any or all of the services.

“I can’t see terminating water and sewer if they just can’t pay for garbage,” said councilman Thomas Moore. “It seems to target some folks that are destitute.”

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For some this is not a problem. Residents surviving on Social Security are exempt from payment. However, for others the issue remained.

Paula Brame was there to represent the utilities and explain where billing issues would be handled.

“That would be to the discretion of the utility board,” Brame said. “Right now it would come back to the council as it is now. The city still owns the contract. Right now the utility board can’t do anything about it because the city owns the contract.”

The council chose to pass the ordinance as written and address any problems that arise in the future.

Street paving was the next hot issue. At the last regular council meeting council members were asked to put together a list of streets in immediate need of repair. The city hopes to use grants and other funds to repair as many streets as possible. There were many ideas as to which streets should take top priority.

Bob Evans, a representative of Almon and Associates said the street paving could get expensive.

“The total for the streets we looked at could total somewhere around $730,000,” Evans said.

“About 230,000 of that are in the original sheet we had. When we first did this thing we were looking for about $400,000. Some of those streets that were in that budget are in this $730,000.”

The biggest concern was the turn lane at Walnut Street and Highway 80. Concerns about the condition of this street got a great deal of discussion.

“Walnut Street and Highway 80 is one I am really worried about,” Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson said. “That turn lane is not in anybody’s district, but it is a mess.”

Evans said normally there is a set amount of money to work with for street paving in the city and they usually go from there.

“Normally we run somewhere around $400,000 a year for general street paving,” Evans said. “That is normally what we do.”

The council decided to continue their discussion further and work with the list they currently had.