April 16, 2014 Edition

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Hoxie explains irregular water bills

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Concerns regarding recent water bills were addressed at the Hoxie City Council meeting on April 8.

Water expenses for the city were at their highest in January and February, showing increases of 35 and 43 percent respectively. In addition to higher water usage, inclement weather impeded the city's ability to read water meters during their regular reading schedule.

As an alternative to extending the billing cycle, the bills were based on a computer-estimated average for both January and February. Mayor Lanny Tinker said this produced accurate bills for about 80 percent of the population, but the remaining residents either paid too much or too little during those months.

The citizen's who paid less than they should have in January and February had higher bills than normal for March. Some also had leaks during that time which remained unrecognized due to the computer estimates.

Tinker said that the estimates were expected to regulate payment amounts but they hadn't calculated for leakages or taps left dripping to prevent freezing. He said that in the future, they will instead adjust the reading schedule around inclement weather such as reading a week late.

While a reading schedule adjustment would guarantee bill fluctuations, Tinker said it would at least allow them to account for leaks and prevent bills from being driven up over an extended period of time.

"We will never, ever estimate again," Tinker said. He added that he has been working with those whose bills were too high for them to afford. He said that he has allowed payments on the outstanding bills and has set up separate accounts for those balances to prevent high interest rates on future bills.

Miscalculated bills were also adjusted to take off sewer rates above the average for that residence.

The Mayor said that anyone with concerns about their bill is encouraged to visit city hall. He said that they have tried to be as transparent as possible about the state of the city's water.

At the meeting, he distributed a handout that included the 14 major articles about the city's water he has written in the mayor's report over the past four years, the most recent of which was in January.

Also at the meeting:

  • it was announced that progress on the sewer pump replacements have been temporarily stalled as Kajacs Contractors Inc. is waiting on a part needed to proceed. The part is expected to arrive this week.

  • Tim Cary with Arkansas Rural Water had 10 of the city's removed water meters for citizens to see how they were failing to register all water passing through them. After the sewer pumps have been replaced, the city's next priority is to replace outdated meters across town.

  • the council agreed to sell the city's fogger to the original seller who will use it for parts.

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