Fees, both jail and water, were the two main topics at Clinton’s City Council meeting Thursday, May 23.
The matter of jail fees was brought up as City of Clinton Police Chief John Willoughby gave the monthly review of his department.
The $53 per day inmate fee was leading to the department doing a “catch and release” on non-felony arrests, Willoughby told the body. In this arrangement, he explained, anyone arrested is given a court date when they were ticketed.
The problem here, Willoughby cautioned, is the possible following charges if someone doesn’t arrive for their court date, resulting in a Failure to Appear warrant being issued. Getting arrested on this would result in jail time, and charges to the city.
City of Clinton Mayor Richard McCormac confirmed in an after-meeting interview that the city had allocated funds for the jail fee as part of its 2019 budget. The city would continue to “keep an eye on expenses,” he said, but at the moment there was no concern about not being able to meet the fee.
The jail fee was established last year by the county as it came to terms with a tight budget.
Water fees were brought up during the water department’s report to the body. City of Clinton Water and Sewer Manager William Hinchey, joined by Water Board member Mickey Parrish, presented the coming need for a rate change to meet forthcoming department needs.
“I really really need a rate change,” Hinchey said, pointing out that the last increase in Clinton water rates was 2016.
At issue was the water meter project currently underway. The department was in the process – a project begun last year – of upgrading the city’s water meters to a newer and more-accurate style of meter which included the ability to be read remotely.
The meter project was being financed, pending approval, by a low-interest loan through the state. Here, however, was the requirement for the city to be able to show its ability to make loan payments. In light of this a process was underway to update the 2015 rate study by CWB Engineers, which was working with the city on various water department projects.
Hinchey said he expected this would lead to an increase on water rates. The current plan, Hinchey added, was for any rate increase to be done so as not to impact low-use fixed-income customers, and that the change would be made primarily through changing the charge for amount of water used.
“This has to be addressed to have a town,” McCormac said.
“We don’t want anything to hamstring this city,” Parrish said.
In other council matters:
• No dogs had been recovered in the city by Animal Control in the month of April. One pig, however, had been recovered. Attendant to this the SNYP Animal Shelter was financially stable through the end of the year, the Council was told.
• The police department now has a certified K9 on patrol.
• The city is giving away mulch on Fridays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at its Factory Street location.
• The water department loss rate was currently at 47%, Hinchey told the body, but this was expected to be lower for the following month, as a large leak had been repaired at Burnt Ridge.
• Water line replacement to the north of Clinton as part of the Highway 65 widening project was expected to begin in June. Line replacement will begin at the Highway 110 intersection and move south toward town.
• “We’re going to have to do something there,” about the Walmart Loop by the Post Office, McCormac told the gathering as part of the Streets Department report.
• The second reading of the Tree Ordinance led to the potential of members of that committee also being members of the being-formed Parks Committee. Councilman Jeff Pistole expressed concern that too many boards were being formed in making this suggestion.
• Economic Development is in the initial phases of planning a regular “Park Fest” as Archey Fork Park, likely the last Saturday of each month.
• Media 3 Owner Alan Taylor will be at the next council meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 27, to address issues regarding cable service in the city.