ELLIOTT — Elliott residents will receive a new type of water bill in late August or early September, and they will also start being billed each month instead of every two.
Village trustees voted unanimously Tuesday night to make the changes under a new contract with Cooperative Advantage, which is connected with E.J. Water Cooperative of Dietrich, Ill.
Under the new service, homeowners will have several options for payment, including traditional check by mail, credit card, debit card and online bill paying. Cooperative Advantage will also follow a 90-day process on overdue balances before resorting to shutting off water service.
Village board president pro-tem Josh Rouley said he had spoken with Diana Ehlers, an Elliott resident who is paid to do the water billing, about the change. Rouley said her system and records were very accurate and thorough; however, Ehlers is planning to move to Indiana after her upcoming retirement, so the new system is considered a timely change.
The cost of the new billing system will be $1 per meter each month. When beacon meters are installed as part of proposed water-system improvements, the cost will be reduced to 89 cents.
In the meantime, meters will continue to be read by Trustee Ralph Erhardt, who is paid for that work. Erhardt will fill in a spreadsheet provided by Cooperative Advantage to show each home’s water-meter reading.
Willie Love and Eric Emmerich, representatives from the company, answered questions and assured board members that they will continue to determine water pricing and policies.
As part of this process, part-time village employee Paul Theesfield was directed to work with the village treasurer to get an annual total of all expenses related to producing water, to include chemicals, electricity and testing. The goal is to divide that total by the number of gallons used annually to determine the village’s cost per 1,000 gallons of water pumped to residents.
Grant application update
Rouley said 77 income surveys had been completed by residents as part of the village applying for a $500,000 grant for water-system improvements through the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
Rouley said he and others will work in the evening to get at least 20-plus more surveys completed, as those residents who were missed were likely away from home on weekdays.
Rouley thanked trustees Mary Young and Rosie Niederowski and his wife, Angie Rouley, for obtaining the surveys by knocking on doors. Rouley said only three households refused to cooperate in the surveys, even after hearing that at least an 80 percent participation rate must be obtained for the grant to be awarded.
Emmerich said the level of cooperation was outstanding and served as an indication that residents were now behind the steps being taken by the village board.
After looking at maps of the village’s water system, engineers determined that Elliott has about 14,000 linear feet of water line instead of the 8,000 feet used in initial verbal estimates for costs to replace lines, meters and hydrants as part of the water-system improvement project.
Emmerich said that since 8,000 feet is the length of piping that usually can be replaced for the anticipated $500,000 grant, the project will now have to be split over two years — doing one-half of the town each year and then hoping to receive a second year’s grant to cover the other half.
This means that previous plans to install a new water tower as part of the second year’s grant will likely be postponed beyond the two-year window.
Emmerich said that current grant rules say the surveys being taken now are good for a five-year period.
Trustee Ed Godsey said there are special areas of concern that should be addressed during the project, such as where a hydrant is missing or too long of a run is made from water main to house line. Emmerich suggested that Godsey traverse the town with the project engineer before plans are drawn, so that those areas can be corrected in the new design.
Trustees agreed with Godsey that incorporating those sorts of fixes would “make it right for years to come.”
Trustees sworn in; new treasurer appointed
The meeting began with a mass swearing-in of all trustees, including three new ones appointed by Rouley at the May meeting: Godsey, Young and Jarrod Holmes.
Trustees later ratified Rouley’s appointment of Joann Scheurich as the new village treasurer. The position became vacant when the former treasurer, Cheri Daughenbaugh, moved to Gibson City.
Clerk needed; committees appointed
Rouley said he also needs to appoint a new village clerk by the July 9 board meeting, since Daughenbaugh held both positions. Rouley encouraged residents interested or those who have suggestions to contact him.
Rouley also appointed two trustees for each of three committees: Godsey and Holmes for water, Young and Erhardt for streets and alleys, and Godsey and Holmes for garbage.
A sign will be posted on the village board meeting room’s window, giving a telephone number for each committee member. Residents are to contact committee members with concerns related to their committee rather than directing all concerns to the board’s president.
Also at the meeting:
➜ Niederowski said she has contacted Frontier Communications about the company’s leaning pole, which is surrounded by caution tape and considered a fall hazard. She said she will follow up to be sure the pole is fixed or replaced.
➜ David Hudson asked if he could be provided with a short culvert in order for him to construct an approach to one of the houses he owns in the village. Trustees had no objection, and Godsey said he would follow up on procuring the tubing.
➜ After a discussion about certain areas being mowed and paid for by the village, Rouley directed Young and Erhardt to ascertain exactly those areas to be mowed by the village and those areas to be mowed by individuals or the state. In the past, the ditches along a short part of Illinois 9 and on either side of the state-owned approach into the village have been mowed by the village. Trustees believed that while it looks nice, the unnecessary mowing probably contributed to the $200 mowing bill they approved as part of the list of bills presented by Daughenbaugh. Hudson asked if the process could be posted for becoming a part-time village employee who might be contacted to perform duties such as mowing or snow removal. Rouley said he would do so.