City updates given to council

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — Updates on the city’s inflow and infiltration (I&I) program and utility billing were discussed Monday during Sidney’s City Council meeting.

Utilities Director Larry Broughton gave his final council presentation, before his retirement, on updates of the I&I program. Council stood, gave him a round of applause and thanked him for his work with the city at the end of his remarks.

Sidney is in the third year of the I&I program that works to reduce clear water intrusion into the sanitary sewer system, which in-turn reduces treatment for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. The city is making slow progress on lateral repairs, Broughton said.

Community properties were split into sections, and each year since the program’s inception in 2014, the city requires selected property owners to conduct property laterals inspections. Laterals are underground pipes that carry water to the sanitary sewer main and their and connectors throughout the city.

A total of 399 properties were included in Section 1 in the first year of the program. The city targets approximately 400-500 properties each year.

Ninety-nine percent of homes in Section 1 from the first year have been inspected and 83 percent of laterals are compliant. There still are 66 properties not in compliance; repairs were due in April of this year. Of the 66, 24 properties have made arrangements for repairs, Broughton said.

Broughton’s report showed 88 percent of properties have been inspected within the 2015 Section 2, and owners have until April 30, 2018, to complete repairs. Properties in the 2016 Section 3 inspections showed 88 percent of homes have been inspected and have until April 30, 2019, to complete repairs. Properties in the 2017 Section 4 have until April 30, 2018, to submit inspection results and have until April 30, 2020, to make repairs.

Homeowners have several programs available to help financially with inspections and repairs costs such as with I & I Low Income Assistance Loans and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The city will also continue its lateral transfer program, for homeowners who wish to participate. Broughton said Sidney will assume the lateral from the right of way to the sewer main only if the property owner installs an inspection chamber.

He strongly recommends applying early and to provide proper documentation. He also recommends for people to “buddy up” into groups to get cheaper rates for inspections and repairs.

“We are willing to help. (Homeowners) just have to be willing to come forth with the paperwork to get it set up,” said Broughton.

In other business, Karen Berning, revenue collection manager, gave an update on the city’s revenue collections department. Her report included payment options: AutoPay (customer provides bank account number), customer’s online banking, online via the city’s website, and payment by cash, check or money order in person, in the drop box or by mail.

According to 2016 statistics, residents paid most often by cash, check or money order; the average monthly usage is 3,376 out of a total of 5,856 for all the methods combined. This method is the most costly for the city, Berning said.

Customers also have the option to receive bills by email. This cuts the city’s costs for postage, paper bills and envelopes. It also offers advantages to the customer, including immediate access to the bill and a 13-month history of their bills.

Council member Steve Wagner said the recent outdoor Backstage Block Party concert was great. He said they had a lot of volunteers, was pleased there was very little litter, and is looking forward to the last concert set for Aug. 26.

Council member Darryl Thurber suggested the city should have handicapped Porta Pottys available, in addition to standard units, at future events.

City Manager Mark Cundiff said he received word Sidney’s Finance Department is once again receiving the GFOA’s (Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. It is a national award recognizing excellency in keeping the city’s budget. He said Sidney’s Financial Officer Ginger Adams will formally receive the award at a future council meeting.

Council also reviewed the upcoming Zoning Board/Planning Commission Agenda for Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, and the prospective City Council Agenda items for the next 30 days. Cundiff said the Zoning Board will elect its chair and vice chair at its next meeting. Also, the Planning Commission meeting is canceled, as nothing is on the agenda.

In final business, council held an executive session to consider the purchase of property for public purposes, the appointment of a public official and for the discipline of a public employee. No action was taken after council emerged from the session.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.