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Water issues dominate town council meeting

by Tom Chillemi

The tap could run dry for Urbanna water customers who ignore water bills.

On Monday town administrator Holly Gailey told the Urbanna Town Council she has mailed water shut-off notices to 31 customers, 20 of whom are renters.

At council’s work session on Friday, November 15, mayor Don Richwine said the town will not tolerate water bills that remain unpaid after repeated requests.

Council attorney Andy Bury said the town has the option of placing a lien on properties if water bills are not paid.

In a water-related matter, Eric Johnson said requiring restaurants to make a large deposit to cover water bills was a hardship on the businesses, and he asked council to re-consider the policy. “I just don’t think it’s right in these economic times to have money sitting in escrow,” Johnson told council.

Gailey responded that the water deposit is $1,000. She added that the last two restaurants to close in Urbanna left the town “in the hole.” One restaurant closed with a $1,200 water bill, and the deposit was just $1,000.

“This is one area we continue to get burned,” said Gailey. “It’s hard to recover the money when they close.”

Gailey added that a few delinquent customers have created the need for a deposit.

Mayor Richwine said council will revisit the water deposit policy.

In another water-related matter, Gailey noted that a recent water study found no leaks in the town water system. The study did find meters that were not recording water flows accurately. However, the study did not determine where the system needs repair.

The town may have to change water meters on a regular basis, she said.

New state water regulations that go into effect in January 2014 will require the town to account for all water.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 11.20.2013

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