Hustonville City Council changed its policy Tuesday for shutting off water to customers who are behind in their water bills.
The council voted unanimously to have customers' water turned off if they get behind by $50 in their bill or after two months without payment, whichever comes first.
Under the previous policy, there was no time limit, so if a customer's monthly bill was small enough, he or she could go for a long time without paying before reaching the $50 cut-off.
Spivey said the previous policy seemed unfair to residents of Lincoln County who live outside Hustonville but still get their water provided by the city, because they get billed at a more expensive rate.
While a city resident may be able to go for three or four months without paying their water bill, a customer living outside the city limits could rack up $50 or more even in a single month.
"I think people who do not live within the city should have the same (deal) as people living in the city because we're all water customers," Spivey said.
Spivey initially proposed cutting off water after a bill was delinquent for two months, regardless of how much the bill was. After discussing the fact some residents with pools could potentially build up huge water bills over the span of two months, the council decided to go with the hybrid policy.
The council held the first reading of an amended budget for the current fiscal year to account for an overall increase of $7,118 in city funds and an overall decrease of $1,225 in water funds.
Among changes in the amended budget for city revenue are an additional $4,682 in property taxes, an extra $3,626 in municipal aid and a decrease of $2,250 in miscellaneous income.
Changes in the amended budget for city expenses include an additional $2,150 for police salaries and a total of $5,471 in extra road fund costs.
Amendments to revenue for the water department include $1,725 less for meter installation, $5,000 less for “other revenue,” $1,000 more for redeposits and $4,500 more for reconnect fees.
Expense amendments for the water department include an additional $6,000 for salaries and $1,000 for payroll taxes, an extra $6,965 for pipes and supplies, an increase of $1,000 for returned checks, $4,500 less for repairs and maintenance, $2,500 less for gas, $2,000 less for utilities, $2,500 less for utility tax, $2,500 less for office supplies, $1,500 less for postage and $1,000 less for advertising.
City Council also held first reading of the city and water department’s 2012-13 budgets.
The planned 2012-13 city budget looks largely the same as this year's budget, except for a decrease of $3,426 in municipal aid income, a decrease of $5,271 in road fund spending and several other minor adjustments. The total proposed budget is $106,595 — $3,423 less than this year's budget.
The proposed 2012-13 water department budget has quite a few large increases and decreases, with a total budget of $589,225, which is $3,425 larger than this year.
On the revenue side, the proposed water budget anticipates $1,575 less income from meter installation, $500 more from redeposits and $3,500 more in reconnect fees. The increase in reconnect fee revenue would represent an approximately 53-percent increase over the current year's budget.
On the expenses side of the proposed water budget, money for salaries and payroll taxes would increase by $11,925, money for gasoline would increase by $5,000 and funds for insurance would go up by $5,000. Spending on pipes and supplies would drop by $18,190.
Second readings for the current budget amendment and the 2012-13 budget are expected at the next regular meeting, scheduled for June 5.
Pay-rate, law ordinances pass second readings
The council passed two ordinances into law — one defining a new pay-scale for city employees, the other defining procedures and fines for unkempt lawns.
Under the new pay-scale ordinance, pay to water department workers ranges from $10 per hour for a new employee up to $16.25 for a certified employee with five years of experience with the city. Pay for the city clerk and water clerk ranges from $10.50 per hour for a new employee up to $15.50 after five years with the city.
The assistant city clerk position starts out at $7.25 per hour for a new employee and grows to $13 per hour after five years.
Salary for chief of police was set at $10 per hour for a new employee, ranging up to $13.55 per hour after five years.
The new lawn ordinance states lawns have to be kept to a height of eight inches or less. If a lawn grows beyond that, the city can send a certified letter to the resident informing of the violation. After receipt of the letter, the property owner has five days to trim the lawn to an acceptable height or the city will be able to impose a $150-$300 fine, depending on the size of the property.
The money from that fine will "be used by the city of Hustonville to bring the property within ordinance compliance," the ordinance states.
If the owner fails to pay the fine, the city can place a lien on the property.