Mayor Kevin Perkins of Bethel announced his resignation Sept. 11 due to his imminent transfer out of state for his job.
Perkins, who announced a few months ago that he would be leaving at some time, has since taken over the helm at the village as Mayor after the death of elected mayor David Simpson. Perkin’s seat on council had just been filled by Gary Hutchinson, and now, new president Travis Dotson will fill in as mayor and the search will begin to find a candidate to fill his vacated seat.
Perkins, who will officially leave the administration on Sept. 17, said that he was humbled by the support and encouragement he received during his years on council and challenged citizens to get involved with public office.
Also during the meeting, council discussed complaints concerning water service, although the two individuals bringing the complaints failed to arrive and state their case. Bethel Administrator Michael Shiverski said that several such complaints during his tenure prompted him to bring the issues before council.
According to Shiverski, the village practice of charging a minimum $12 a month fee for unused water hookups had drawn complaints from villagers who disliked paying for water service that wasn’t in use. The most recent complaint stemmed from an apartment complex with only one current tenant.
“Right now, three of the four apartments in the unit are vacant and she still pays a minimum $12 a month for the water,” said Shiverski. “She’s wondering, if it’s vacant, if council will pass something saying you don’t have to pay since nobody is occupying the space. I’ve had several other requests for that since I’ve been here, so it seems like it’s an issue.”
Village solicitor George Leicht said that the fee is in part charged based on the availability of water service.
“You pay that because we have a waterworks that provides capacity to permit those apartments to obtain water,” said Leicht. “We have the potential to supply them, you’re paying for the availability of water.”
Councilman John Swarthout, however, asked about the necessity of charging such a fee.
“If there’s no water in the apartments right now, why are they paying a minimum?” asked Swarthout. “If there is no bill being generated for that apartment, how do you pay a minimum if nobody is being billed?”
Leicht explained that the purpose was to maintain active water service for when the need for water arose. For instance, shutting off the water and then turning it back on would result in a new tap in fee. This way, the water is kept available for quick use with no tap in fees.
“You have a minimum to maintain the water,” said Leicht. “You don’t have to pay a new tap-in fee every time you get a new tenant.”
Councilman Tim Cherry said that the idea is to keep from tying up water department workers with constant connections, disconnections and reconnections.
“You could get around it by deciding not to ever rent that apartment again, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Cherry. “We don’t want to get into the business of waiving it every time you don’t have a tenant. We have to keep going back and forth (to turn the water on and off).”
The council also discussed the way late fees are handled for water payments. The late fee, said Leicht, is actually the regular cost of water service. According to the system, paying on time actually provides a discount, but late payment results in a full charge for that month’s water. Shiverski said that the bills are being retooled to make that clearer.
“We’re trying to take away ‘penalty’ on the bills and change it so people don’t see it as a negative, but as an advantage to pay,” said Shiverski.