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Posted June 25, 2012 | comments 4 Comments

Council cuts break on utility penalties

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Town residents who don't pay their Front Royal utility bills face a lighter penalty under a new set of reconnection fees.

Town Council on Monday amended the Front Royal ordinance governing water and electricity fees to reflect a sliding scale structure. Council had at its meeting two weeks ago adopted an ordinance which increased the reconnection fees to $50. Councilman Thomas Conkey sought to reduce that penalty through an amendment to the proposed ordinance but his motion failed.

This time, Conkey proposed amending the ordinance to create a structure under which the reconnection fee begins at $20 for the first time, then increases by $10 each subsequent time the town must reconnect the resident's water or electricity. At the recommendation of Finance Director Kim Gilkey-Breeden, council also made the fee applicable per account rather than per year as one council member suggested.

Mayor Timothy Darr broke a tie vote at a previous meeting which ultimately defeated Conkey's original motion. Darr told council Monday he received information from staff on deliquent utility users and reconnections. Out of 250 disconnection notices issued last month, Darr said, 240 were repeat offenders who he said abused the system.

"We're not trying to make money but stop the bleeding, stop the loss of revenue going out the door," said Councilman Carson Lauder Jr.

Councilman N. Shae Parker suggested the ordinance contain a clause which would reset the fees assessed to an account for good standing.

Also at the meeting council approved the first amendment to the fiscal 2013 budget by which they increased the $70,000 allocated for one-time bonuses to full- and part-time staff to $91,000. Staff bonuses would go to employees not appointed by council. The motion passed 6-0. Councilman Hollis Tharpe did not support the original amendment but told council this time he supported the bonuses after receiving more information about the budget item.

Councilman Thomas Sayre attempted to change the one-time bonus for most town employees approved in the fiscal 2013 budget to a permanent increase. However, Gilkey-Breeden advised to do so would cost the town more than the $91,000 budgeted for the bonuses. She also warned the salary increases would cause a "huge challenge" in creating the budget for the following year. Council voted against adding his motion to the agenda but Councilman Hollis Tharpe recommended addressing Sayre's suggestion at a future work session.

4 Comments | Leave a comment

    Greedy Greedy Greedy.

    There is nothing like hammering the poor with more fees because they can't pay their over priced water and electric rates from the monopoly on time.

    The whole council should be ashamed of itself for doing this.

    Dear wondering, Front Royal is reported to have the lowest electrical rates of any municipality in the the state and the lowest water and sewer rates in the valley based on reports coming out of Richmond. What I find interesting was the difference 2 weeks brings to the attitude of Councilmen Sayre and Tharpe after voting against employees raises and bonus increases at the last meeting. Now it seems that both Councilmen now fully support the bonus increase and Council Sayre even went as far to do the very thing that he accused Councilman Conkey of trying to create a newspaper headline for himself by asking for the Council to convert the bonus to a yearly employee pay increase. Councilman Tharpe must have received some Town shirts this week from the employees that helped him change his mind for this weeks Councils vote.

    Dear sallysunshineinfroro or should we address you as ( mr. mike ) Please try finding something else to talk about and leave mr. Sayre be. And do try to get better info before commenting on councilmen sayre or tharpe as well. And by the way its not FRORO its Front Royal.

    Dear Spunky, you make yourself look stupid when you try to guess who people are on this site. Now if you think my facts are incorrect then feel free to state why you feel they are incorrect based on facts. The statement about the utility rates being low was based on an NVD article a month ago. This has been your weakness in many of your previous posts. I have nothing against Mr. Sayre other than my observations after watching both Council meeting online regarding the employee bonus issue. I think Mr Tharpe is just extremely entertaining to watch.

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