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Durham City Council

City sees $2,000 increase in profit

Contributing writer

City clerk Joyce Medley reported the city has realized a profit of $2,071 more than in 2009.

The general fund started with a balance of $4,763 and ended with $6,813. The sewer fund went from $584 to $8,411 and the street fund $4,582 to $6,871. Because of a number of necessary repairs and the purchase of new equipment, the water fund did not fare as well. On Jan. 1 2010, the fund had a balance of $11,783; there were $14,781 in receipts and $30,287 in repairs. The council speculated that the expense of operating the aging water system might necessitate further increases in water rates. The combined checking account balance of the four funds was $28,373.

In addition to the checking account, the city has certificates of deposit totaling $85,689. These and the checking account earned $1,062 in interest, which is a decrease from previous years. In spite of the decrease in income and increased expenses for the water system, the city remains in sound financial shape, the council said.

Aspects of the water system were discussed; it is still in a state of transition after Verlin Sommerfeld’s retirement.

“Maybe I’m bad luck,” Mayor Mike Sorenson said. “Since I took over, we’ve had nothing but trouble. We had to put in one new furnace and the other furnace is causing trouble. The chlorine pump went out. The power bill is high because I had to put an electric heater out there. The chlorine level dropped way down, but we got in back-up. It’s been a long month.”

A total of 4.557 million gallons of water was pumped in 2010 with 3.360 million gallons of water sold, an average loss of 22 percent. However, the large rates of loss occurred early in the year and efforts to correct problems have brought down the losses to an acceptable level for the year.

Sorenson asked if he should charge the city for his time in attending training classes for the water supervisor position or only for mileage. Sommerfeld said he had charged only mileage but believed Sorenson should be paid for his time as well. The council concurred.

There were 291,300 gallons of water pumped in January with 207,830 gallons sold, representing a 28.65 percent loss. The loss was from a leak from a blown gasket and the necessity to flush hydrants. The pumps at the lift station ran 35.2 hours.

Tom Harmon said he wanted to establish a clear policy for dealing with overdue water bills. The council approved a new billing schedule which will require water bills be paid by the 15th of the month. Those not paid would be overdue and subject to a 10 percent late charge. If not paid by the 30th, the bill would become delinquent and a disconnect notice would be sent. If the bill was not paid by the 10th of the following month, the meter would be disconnected.

Currently, the city charges a $50 deposit plus a $10 disconnect fee to reconnect the meter. When a resident moved and his bill was current, the deposit was returned. The council approved changing the policy to a nonrefundable $50 reconnect fee.

Harmon said the $10 per hour being paid to repair recent waterline breaks wasn’t enough and suggested raising the pay to $15 per hour. Gary Miller asked if that suggestion was intended to include all city laborers. It was and the council approved the increase.

A water conference will be March 29 through 31. There also will be training in March for setting water rates, Sorenson reported.

Sorenson also said the city’s tractor needed to be serviced and repaired. The council agreed and approved the expense.

Bills approved for payment included $141 for snow removal, $40 for billing cards, $140 for repairs to a blade, $230 for repairs at the city well, $450 for a pump, $49 to Kansas Department of Health and Environment for water testing, and $25 for installation of a water heater.

Last modified Feb. 17, 2011

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