Water issues discussed in Ferrelview

The Village of Ferrelview has made moves in recent months to stop residents who manage to reconnect their own water meters without paying their bills.

At the March meeting of the board of trustees, water commissioner Beth Whorton said the village was looking for water meter locks to stop residents from turning their own water back on. Village water operator Kevin Turley said he’d confiscated an illegal water meter key and had spotted several instances of utility tampering, some of which had caused him to spend hours repairing damages done by residents.

Whorton and trustee Theresa Wilson were in favor of putting all water customers on notice that bills must be paid on time, with the board agreeing. Chair Phil Gilliam pointed out that enforcement of the village’s own ordinances was one of the trouble areas outlined in the state audit report.

Discussions continued at the April meeting of the board. Turley and city clerk April Baxter said there were also problems with billing and discrepancies between the village’s water rates and the rates charged by Kansas City Water Services, which supplies the village’s water. For four years, the correct rates haven’t been charged to customers. The discrepancies were substantial for the past two years, forcing the board to authorize to cash in a $15,000 CD held by the Bank of Weston to pay its bills.

The board also discussed cost-saving measures to reduce village expenditures. Three proposals were presented by Baxter, including reducing the hours of city hall from 30 to 24 hours per week; reducing pay for board members; and eliminating pay for board members. Ferrelview is one of the only small municipalities in the area to offer compensation to members of the board of trustees. The chair of the board receives $150 per month with trustees receiving $75 per month.

Re-elected trustee Wilson and new trustee Frank Baumann were sworn in at a special meeting held April 15. Gilliam was re-elected chair of the board.

“Since KC Water has been screwing up the rates royally for a good long time and has put he water fund in the condition it is in (he proposed a new ordinance be approved)” Gilliam said, suggesting the board approve a new water and sewer rate policy.

Under the new ordinance, late fees will be increased from five to 10 percent and a $5 fee will be assessed on each account to go into an emergency maintenance and repair fund for water and sewer lines. Sewer rates were also increased. The board unanimously approved the ordinance.