By Callie Metler-Smith
A full quorum was present as the Stamford City Council held their first meeting of 2015 on Monday, January 5th. Dr. Shaun Barnett, superintendent of Stamford ISD, addressed the council about an outstanding water bill that the school district has. He told the council that the perfect storm of events had happened over the last few months. The October bill for the meter that is designated for the old basketball gym was not received until after the school received the disconnect notice on the meter in late November. Upon review of the bill, the school noticed that instead of the regular bill that is usually between $675-$800 the October bill was for $3,017.97 plus a 10% penalty. The school district investigated to see if there was a water leak on the line, but couldn’t find any standing water in the old gym. A few days later when they received the November bill, it was for $7,500. After further investigation and some discussion with the City, it was discovered that there was a fairly large water leak in the Old Gym that was dumping directly into the sewer line, therefore accounting for lack of standing water. The school district fixed the leak. The December bill also reflected some excess water use due to the leak, making for a current water bill that is just over $9,000. Dr. Barnett approached the City about forgiving some of the outstanding water bill and was told by City Manager Alan Plumlee that the matter would be brought the City Council.
Mayor Johnny Anders expressed that he had 100% sympathy for the school district in the matter, but because of earlier issues that had been brought to the council by other water users that have excessive bills due to water leaks, he didn’t want to set a new precedent of forgiving high water bills, but that it would be totally up to the council.
Several members of the council asked Plumlee what he had suggested and he told the council that he had offered the school what he had others in the same situation, which was a payment plan to pay off the high water bill. Councilman Dennis Braden expressed that he hated this situation and felt that in the interest of working with other tax entities that a reduction in the bill should take place. Councilman James Decker agreed and made a motion that the council give the school district a $3,000 discount on the water bill as a show of good faith between tax entities. Councilman Braden seconded it. The motion passed with the exception of Councilwoman Melinda Smith who voted no, because she agreed with Mayor Anders about the precedent set with earlier situations. Dr. Barnett thanked the council for their time and told them the bill would be paid within the week.
The council also voted to reappoint Harold Foster, Carol Davis, and Shirley Moore to the Housing Authority and approved contracts dealing with the dispersal of entity property funds to help offset the cost of tearing down some of the dilapidated houses in Stamford.
In his City Manager’s Report Plumlee reported that Hibbs and Todd would be in the next day, January 6th, to look at the new raw water storage tank. The tank currently has not been painted on the outside because the weather had not been warm enough to allow it. He also reported that the city is pursuing more matching grants to begin replacing some of the older waterlines in town. He also reported that the rolloff truck used by the city to help clear lots has been repaired, and the city is still in finishing negotiations with US Water.
The next City Council meeting is set for Monday, January 19th at 5:15 PM.