Adell weighs utility connection issues

by Rodney Schroeter
of The Review staff

ADELL — The Village Board heard of difficulties village staff have with utility disconnections at its Wednesday, Feb. 14 meeting.

Clerk/Treasurer Kelly Rathke and Director of Public Works Shawn Bigelow both told of the amount of time spent disconnecting and reconnecting water services for those who don’t pay.

Rathke said notifications are sent out when a resident does not pay the water bill. If there is still no payment, Bigelow disconnects the water.

Disconnection usually takes Bigelow half an hour, “if everything goes well,” he said. “Right now, first you have to find it in the snow. Most of these shutoff valves are up to six or eight inches under the ground. Now I have to bust up the frozen ground to get to it. Then I have to thaw out the nut and get that off and get the valve wrenched out. In the winter time, it could take me up to an hour to shut the water off.”

Bigelow said he’s had to do this over 30 times in the past month.

Bigelow says one renter sent a pit bull out, making it impossible for Bigelow to get out of his vehicle.

“It seems like Kelly’s operating as property manager for the rental units,” Bigelow said.

“I just feel my time can be used better in other areas,” Rathke said, pointing out her clerk position is part-time. “I feel this takes up a lot of time,” she said, especially when the same people, disconnected because of delinquent water bills, come in and pay part of the bill to be reconnected, promising to pay the rest the next week but not showing up until they are again disconnected.

Rathke has asked other municipalities what they do for this situation. One does not disconnect at all. A notice is sent out, and unpaid bills are added to the tax bills. Bigelow thought that was a good idea, and suggested both the renter and the landlord receive the notification. Several board members agreed.

Village President Andrew Schmitt suggested doing some research, “and it might take another month or two to get it all complete.”

Village resident Sharel McVeigh was present in the audience. She and the board discussed a sewage backup problem she had recently in her home. Eberhardt Plumbing of Adell did some work and presented McVeigh with the bill.

This was not the first, or the worst, backup problem McVeigh has experienced in her home. Schmitt, Bigelow, and board members discussed whose responsibility the backup was, what could be done about it, the infrequent similar situations the village has had in the past and how they were addressed.

Bigelow mentioned a backflow preventer as an option. Schmitt said such valves do work, but they need regular preventive maintenance, and would likely be the property owner’s responsibility. Anyone buying the house would also need to be made aware of that responsibility.

The board unanimously approved paying the bill Eberhardt Plumbing sent McVeigh.

The village attorney will be asked about the village’s legal obligations, should the village install the backflow preventer in McVeigh’s home.

The board unanimously (with the exception noted) approved:

• Issuing two tax refund checks.

• Operator’s licenses for John Saladini for Sherman Station and Alyssa Godersky for Adell Mini Mart.

• Passing a resolution to apply for a $54,000 loan from the state trust fund loan to purchase an equipment van for the Adell Fire Dept. (Trustee Leighton Holtz abstained from voting.)

Police report for the past month: Two citations totaling $40 (both winter parking violations); one warning; five complaints investigated (two winter parking issues; trespassing complaint; two parking issues; assist Sheriff’s Department with a traffic stop); 13 property checks; no arrests made, traffic accidents investigated, court appearances, or warrants.

The next board meeting will be Wednesday, March 14. The evening will start with a public hearing regarding the updated comprehensive plan. A Plan Commission meeting will follow, and after that, the regular Village Board meeting.

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