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Roanoke residents complain about new utilities policy

Roanoke Utilities Board met in their regular meeting last Monday and heard from several concerned citizens about utility deposits. The first to speak was Byron Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds stated he was in attendance regarding the Resolution that was passed in the previous Board Meeting where the debt would remain with the home. Mr. Reynolds questioned if Roanoke Utilities could apply deposits sooner to prevent the final bill from being so much.

The next to speak on the same subject was Barry Bozeman. Mr. Bozeman stated that he felt that if the landlord was made to be responsible for the debt left then the landlord should be able to keep the deposits and suggested turning customers off sooner and billing final bills sooner. Utilities manager Pam Bonner explained that the deposit was applied to the final bill which cut the cost that the landlord would owe. Ms. Bonner explained that unlike the landlord that collected monies in advance Roanoke Utilities actually billed for what was used so it would not be possible to bill in advance.

The next person on the agenda was Ace Joiner. Mr. Joiner read from what he found where the landlord could not be held responsible for the tenant’s bill. Board chairman Ron Cameron read from the Alabama Tenants Handbook where the landlord was required to provide running hot and cold water.

The Board agreed that they would consider raising deposits to help cover the final bill more adequately but they also stated that any debt would still be left with the address.

Audit report

Annette Marcum was in attendance and presented the yearly Audit for 2022. Ms. Marcum stated she found no discrepancies or findings. She said that Ms. Bonner did a good job and that she was easy to work with. Marcum stated that the financial statements were clean. Ms. Marcum stated that there were two adjustments one was the pension plan and the other would-be depreciation both of which Ms. Bonner would not be able to calculate. She said stated that Roanoke Utilities had a positive net position for this audit. She went on to say that due to some of the changes that had been implemented in the last two years the results were finally showing. Marcum stated that Roanoke Utilities had to meet a debt covenant of 1.2 or the Bond Debt and USDA Debt could be called due. Ms. Marcum stated that in past years Roanoke Utilities had barely met the debt covenant but Roanoke Utilities made the debt covenant with room to breathe for the 2022 Audit.

 Manager’s report

Ms. Bonner stated that the plc card for the water plant had finally been received and installed. Ms. Bonner stated that the plc card had been damaged during the lightning strike in April of 2022.

Bonner stated that Pay n Seconds the company that provides credit card services for Roanoke Utilities Board customers system had crashed. Ms. Bonner stated that this caused the office not to be able to take credit cards for several weeks. Ms. Bonner stated that the site was shut down when they were told that other companies were having issues with their customers being charged multiple times for the same transaction.

Ms. Bonner stated that at the time the credit card company crashed there was about $20,000 worth of customers’ money that was not deposited into the bank account. Ms. Bonner stated that this caused Roanoke Utilities Board to end the month of February with not being able to collect the money owed. Ms. Bonner stated that since then the company has slowly deposited the monies into the bank account. Ms. Bonner stated that the office has had customers upset because they were unable to use their credit cards to pay their bills.

Ms. Bonner stated that the NPDES Water Permit from ADEM had been received the previous week. Ms. Bonner stated that the amount of the permit was $4,595.00. Ms. Bonner added that the permit is good for the next 5 years. She stated that the backwash permit had also been submitted and the total cost of the backwash permit was $1,385.00.

Ms. Bonner stated that Mr. Milam had completed the MWPP report (Municipal Water Pollution) for ADEM and that the report was reviewed by Mr. Thompson of Engineers of the South. Ms. Bonner stated that after Mr. Thompson reviewed the report, he agreed the report was ready to submit to ADEM. Ms. Bonner presented the Board Members with a copy of the MWPP Report and stated that the Board would need to review the report and pass a resolution to approve the MWPP Report. After the Board Members reviewed the MWPP Report Mr. Morris made a motion to pass the MWPP Resolution. Mr. Holloway seconded the motion and the motion was unanimously approved. Ms. Bonner stated that the waste plant had got their new scales installed so they could accurately adjust chemicals as needed.

Manager Bonner stated that Mr. Milam had received the last testing report for the waste treatment plant permit. Ms. Bonner stated that Mr. Milam had submitted all of the information in to Engineers of the South so they could prepare the paperwork for the Waste Treatment Plant Permit. Ms. Bonner stated that the previous permit for the waste plant cost $8,075 but this permit would be good for five years as well.

In other matters, Bonner stated all of the paperwork on the lease for the mini excavator has been signed and stated that the monthly payment on the excavator would be $2,090.35 for two years.

A letter has been received from the Public Service Commission stating that Roanoke Utilities Board’s natural gas system had been inspected and that the system was found in satisfactory compliance with state and federal gas distribution safety rules.

Bonner concluded her report stating that the work crew had been faced with sewer issues the previous week. Ms. Bonner stated that a pump had gone out at Fincher Lagoon and had been sent for repairs. Ms. Bonner stated that an estimate on the cost should be received soon. Ms. Bonner added that there had been issues with the Strain Lift Station the previous week as well. Ms. Bonner stated an SSO had to be filed with ADEM because of the issue. Ms. Bonner stated that Strain Lift Station was older and AMPS would be getting a cost to get the lift station back operating properly. Ms. Bonner stated that a solenoid switch had caused the issue at Strain Lift Station.

Science Field Trip

Ms. Bonner stated that Melissa Nelson from the Science Department at Handley High School had contacted her about 30 of her students taking a field trip to the Waste Treatment Plant. Ms. Bonner stated that she had told Ms. Nelson that she would have to present the field trip to the Board Members. The Board Members agreed to allow the class to tour the waste treatment plant but requested that the students have on gloves as soon as they exit the bus and that the class had plenty of chaperones. In ending her report, Bonner stated there would be a Retirement Party Brent Wilson on March 31, 2023 at 2:00pm.

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