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MT. AUBURN — The Village of Mt. Auburn held a regular meeting on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. in the Village.
In a meeting that covered a wide range of topics, Village Mayor Mike Whitehead and the Board continued to come back to an issue that has been plaguing them for awhile now. The number of overdue and late water bills keeps increasing despite efforts by both the clerk, the treasurer, and the mayor to get control of the situation. The main issue seemed to be locating the people that needed to pay the overdue bill. According to the clerk and the Mayor, renters were by far the worst offenders. They would “pop” from one residence to another every couple of months, each time accruing a new water bill and then not paying it because they had moved to a new residence.
The constant shuffling around of these renters made it extremely difficult to keep track of who was getting billed and who was using water, especially since renters rarely let the clerk know they had moved until they got hit with the overdue bill.
Board Trustees said that the Village had an ordinance that required renters to let the Village know when they moved so that the bills could be sent to the property owner. It was also written that when bills were overdue, they were to be sent to property owners, which had not been happening.
Whitehead explained that the past due notices had been sent out, even though many people said they had not received them. Following the ordinance rules, ten days after the past due notices happened, the residence’s water was shut off. After those actions were taken, Whitehead did say that some renters made payments afterwards. But some people cannot be located or just don’t seem to care. Thus, the bills keep rolling over each month without getting resolved.
After intense discussion on repeat offenders and new additions to the list, Whitehead and the Board agreed that once the overdue bill notices had been sent, the Village would also notify the property owner about the situation. The Trustees asked the mayor to draft a letter on Village Letterhead and have the attorney look over it to make sure the wording was correct. Then, they could start going after the property owners when the payments were not made by renters who kept hopping from one property to the next. Whitehead said he had the Village’s property maps all ready to go, which included the names and addresses of every property owner in the Village.
Whitehead also said he had been speaking with a credit collection service from Taylorville, and while they did take 30% of the payments as fees for their services, he felt that getting 70% of a pay- ment was better than the no payments the Village was getting now.
Lee Beckman from Milano and Grunloh was present at the meeting to keep the Board up to date on the mul- tiple projects running in the Village presently. He explained that the water main project was running along smoothly, and the park was completely ready for the picnic this weekend. As for the retaining wall project, Beckman said that the plans were done and drawn up, but he was having trouble getting in contact with the people who originally bid out the project before COVID hit. He asked Trustee DeeDee Carey to try to get in contact with them, since she had procured the original bids. Once they had at least two bids done, Beckman said the project was ready to begin. As for the water plant near Illiopolis was underway but a little behind schedule because of the weather. However, he expected it would be finished by March. Whitehead was going to the site August 19 to look it over, and then would join up with Beckman to start bidding the water mains from the plant to the Village.
While Beckman was pres- ent, the Village agreed to pay the engineering fee of $10,800 and the consultant fee of $11,340.
Whitehead asked the Board what they thought about tak- ing the playground equipment from the park behind the school and moving what was salvageable to the main park. He said he never saw kids down there and he wanted to expand the park that kids were using. The Board agreed with him. Whitehead also told the Board he had purchased a $1,200 John Deere mower and done $200 of work to get it functional. He had used the machine to mow ditches and areas around town that needed work and asked the Board to compensate him. They agreed to pay him $1,400.
Also approved at the meeting:
– Treasurer’s report
The next regular meeting of the Village of Mt. Auburn will be held on September 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Village Hall.