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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Clay City officials meet with water organization

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Indiana American Water representative Jeff Henson speaks with the Clay City Town Council and community members who attended the meeting about selling the water utility. Clay City will have to hire appraisers as the first step in the process if they decide to proceed. [Order this photo]
CLAY CITY -- Representatives from Indiana American Water spoke at this month's Clay City town council meeting. Jeff Henson and Mitch Stauffer explained the 125-year-old national company is the largest water company in Indiana.

Clay City is exploring selling its water utility.

"We've helped a lot of communities in the area," Henson said. Some of their major service areas include Terre Haute, Sullivan and Farmersburg. They are also in the midst of working with Riley.

"We've been in Terre Haute for about 75 years or so," said Stauffer. "It's been a long time."

When asked about employees, Henson said, "A community like Clay City is stand-alone, like Sullivan or Farmersburg."

He explained that those communities have one employee who runs everything. "Our employees live in the communities they work in," he said.

"There would be a daily face here in the community," Stauffer explained.

The council and the representatives discussed meter-reads. Indiana American Water could also read the meters within the community. The representatives said by 2013 all meters should be radio-reads, meaning rain or shine, all the meter reader has to do is drive by and all the meters would be read.

Indiana American Water's rates are standard for all communities, which includes 280,000 customers across Indiana. Clay City would receive cash payment if it decided to sell the utility. As for rates, they would stay about the same as they are now. The property tax on municipal lines will be built into the rates.

"I believe our rates our very fair considering we're investing in all these communities," Henson said.

Council member Rob Freeman agreed.

"Your rates are very comparable," he said.

If the council decides to proceed in the process of selling their utility to Indiana American Water or another company, they would first have to hire three appraisers. The cost would be around $10-12,000, but if Indiana American Water buys the utility, the company would reimburse the city for those expenses. In some cases, the company may actually pay for the appraisers.

Before any final decision can be made about selling the utility, a public hearing would have to take place to get the community's opinion. The entire process could take at least one year.

"If we go through the whole process, you could still say, 'no, we don't want to buy,'" Clay City Town Council President Guy Dickerson said to the water company.

"We both have the right to back out of this," Henson explained.

But that didn't seem to be an issue.

"If the numbers work, I think we could be interested," Freeman said.

Whether the council decides to sell the utility or not, the town's finances seem to be looking up.

"Water and sewage is looking better since we raised the rates," Clerk Treasurer Denetta Hane said. "It looks like I'll be able to pay the January bill."

Meanwhile, Town Attorney Chris Gambill was asked to write letters to those community members with piggyback meters. The letters will inform them that they will have 30 days to schedule a new meter to be put in. The fee for each new meter will be $500.

At the end of the meeting, Clay City Police Chief Terry Skaggs brought several topics to the council's attention including:

* Skaggs thanked community members for cleaning up and mowing their lawns after being asked,

* He wanted to assure the community that even though the town of Clay City may seem to be struggling financially, the police department is stable with more than $30,000 in its accounts. "We're probably greater than we've ever been," he said,

* At the next council meeting, Skaggs plans to have proposals for a new shotgun and cameras for the vehicles and their department building. He explained that one of the department's shotguns is old and has already been repaired three times.

"The one we're looking at has a tactical handle," he said. He also explained that the police vehicles haven't had cameras inside for 6-7 years.

"We need them to compete in court," he explained. He has found one that mounts on the dashboard but is removable. It uses an SD card and would record both inside and outside the vehicle. The software is included. The department would like two cameras, which would be an estimated $1,000, and

* Skaggs explained that the police department has three vehicles -- two are paid off and one of those is the 2007 Dodge Charger that is being sold.

"We're not selling a vehicle because we're in a situation where we need to," he said. After researching with Kelley Blue Book and several car dealerships, he and the council decided to invite bids for the vehicle starting at $20,000.

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