By RUBY KEARCE
Ponce De Leon (PDL) City Council met Tuesday, Sept. 13, at the town hall for their monthly meeting. City Clerk Jessica Harris approached the board about a recent phone call she received from a resident of PDL, a water service customer. The customer has recently gone to media outlets complaining about her continuously high water bill. She also called the city twice, reportedly speaking angrily to the employee who answered, regarding her water being cut off due to non-payment of a past-due bill. Harris, along with members of Jacobs Engineering explained that they have done everything to investigate the problem. A study from June to July was conducted, during which they monitored the meter and conducted multiple readings. This proved that there were no leaks, and the increased fee is from water usage.
The city’s representative for Empire Pipe and Supply, the company that issued the Master Meter water meters for the town of PDL, studied the data collected from the investigation. According to the representative, the meters purchased for PDL are 97%-103% accurate on flows under 1 GPM and 98.5%- 101.5% accurate on flows between 1 and 20 GPM, if the product fails to fall between those guidelines it will not be shipped out. The customer has had the meter replaced twice in one day, several years ago, when she was upgraded from a manual reader meter to a digital one. The representative stated that they cannot say where the water goes, but in his evaluation of the data he concluded from the intervals of water usage that it is typical of a sprinkler system or watering occurring in the late afternoon.
Additionally the city is only responsible for the property from the meter to the road. Anything beyond the meter is the resident’s responsibility. The customer has also told a Jacobs’ employee that she has attempted “do it yourself” plumbing in the home.
Harris mentioned that there have been two adjustments made to her bill this year, one for a pool fill up, and one to resolve a situation. Harris has also pleaded with the customer to appear at a city council meeting, but she was told it would do no good. No one from the council recognizes the customer from previous meetings. The customer has also admitted that her son, who also lives with her, left the hose running on one occasion. The council agreed that the city has gone above and beyond to help solve this situation and decided to continue with the ordinance and keep the meter locked until payment.
When asked if the city had anything else to add, Harris said, “The town has done everything possible to rule out any problem with the town’s water line or water meter. We monitored her meter in June and July. The end result was confirmed that it was water usage at the residence.”
Ronnie Vanzant with Jordan and Associates then approached the board about the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fund. ARPA was signed into law on March 11, 2021, in order to provide $350 billion in additional funding for state and local governments, with PDL’s portion being $283,984.00. Vanzant suggested merging their ARPA fund with their Community Development Block grant (CDBG) because of the need for “Well One” to be brought up to date. The current well in that location is the original well installed in the 1980’s when the town started offering “city water.” An engineer with Jacobs’ Engineering is creating the plan for the Well One Project, which should be completed in a matter of days. Then, Vanzant suggested holding a public workshop to discuss other projects the city would like to see completed with the remaining balance left after the updating of Well One.
In regards to Jacobs Engineering, David Sennel, announced they recently received a letter from DEP in regards to their recent inspection. The letter stated that they are up to satisfactory standards. Sennel went on to inform the council that he sent them about 600 pages regarding the CDBG grant and the impact fees associated with it and suggested that they hold a special meeting after the council has had time to review it in order to answer any questions they may have. Also a USDA construction account will need to be created in order to receive the CDBG funds, the council went on to pass a motion to allow City Clerk Jessica Harris to do so.
Sennel also mentioned a group that is willing to, at no charge to the city, install monitoring devices to the lift stations to monitor things like power outages and surges. There will also be a water/sewer rate increase starting Oct 1, with water going up $12.22 and sewer going up $2.48, making the new average $78. In other words there is a 5 percent increase for residential and a 10 percent increase for commercial and institutional service.
In other news, The recreation department’s spaghetti dinner earned about $230 dollars to go toward the department. Harris also suggested doing a Trunk or Treat, in the Town Hall parking lot the night of Halloween rather than doing it separately like in the past. Local businesses will be invited to come and join.