At their latest meeting, the Harrodsburg City Commission tabled a request for a water bill adjustment after a city commissioner questioned its fairness.
Amy Kays-Huffman, the water department supervisor, brought the request before the commission. Kays-Huffman said the customer received a water bill for more than $1,200 because of a huge leak he had not been aware of until he was notified by the city. The customer’s regular bill was in the range of $90-$130, she said. Kays-Huffman said the customer paid $1,500 fixing the issue. She said she had already made a $600 adjustment to the bill. The customer is Richard Reilly, an officer with the Harrodsburg Police Department.
Commissioner Scott Moseley, who oversees the city’s emergency services, moved to adjust Reilly’s bill to a normal amount, which would have been a further reduction of $500.
“That is way more than we do for any other customers,” Kays-Huffman said.
Commissioner Charlie Mattingly objected.
“We’re going to have to do this for everybody,” Mattingly said. “Do we want to set a precedent here?”
Commissioner Moseley said the commission evaluates bill adjustments on a case-by-case basis.
“We’ve got to treat everybody fair and square,” Mattingly said.
Commissioner Jack Coleman said he would discuss the issue with Kays-Huffman and bring it back before the commission at their next meeting. No action was taken.
Kays-Huffman said some customers are facing issues with high water bills. She said the bills are due to the meter reader guesstimating.
“We are trying to help those people as much as we can,” she said. She said she has made her frustrations known to the meter reader and she has requested he be written up.
This is not the first time the city has been flooded with complaints about high water bills and blamed the issue on meters not being read in a timely manner. Earlier this year, the commissioners voted to move forward with a $1.5 million project to replace water meters with smart meters, which would allow Kays-Huffman and her staff to perform readings at the office instead of physically checking each meter. Residents would also be able to monitor their water usage by downloading an app.
The city has already installed 750 smart meters as part of routine maintenance. Kays-Huffman said the system allowed her to determine a customer’s water usage.
The city commission also voted to adjust the tourism budget, after receiving a payment of $49,610.53 for restaurant taxes from the last quarter of the 2019-2020 fiscal year. The commissioners voted to pay $10,000 to Anderson-Dean Community Park, $5,000 to Harrodsburg First Main Street Program, $3,500 for fireworks, $21,110.53 for miscellaneous expenses and $10,000 for historic light poles.
Commissioner Mattingly said the $10,000 will go toward purchasing eight poles for Lexington Street.
In other business, the Harrodsburg City Commission:
• Approved Mayor Art Freeman signing an agreement with Community Trust Bank for automatic check scanners. The city will only be charged $14.95 a month.
• Voted to promote both Cpl. Derek Patterson and Cpl. Chris Booth of the Harrodsburg Police Department to sergeant. They will receive a $1 raise now and a $1 raise upon completion of their six month probationary period. They also voted to increase Assistant Police Chief Tim Hurt’s pay by $1.
• Approve letter of resignation for firefighter Louis Murphy from the Harrodsburg Fire Department effective Aug. 18. In his resignation letter, Murphy said he was pursuing another opportunity with benefits such as hazardous duty and retirement, which he said are in line with his long term goals.
• Voted to accept the resignations of part-time telecommunications Savannah Caldwell and Carissa Smith.
• Voted to allow Cpl. Booth, who also serves in the military, to borrow against his hours from next year’s military leave so he does not lose hours during military service.
• Authorized paying bills for maintaining Anderson-Dean Park. The commissioners voted to pay Napa Auto Parts $14.44 for a belt on a mower and $16.59 to Johnson Small Engine for a pulley.
• Mattingly also asked about moving the HumVees at the cemetery. Moseley asked Chief Brian Allen to move the armored vehicles to behind the 911 center.
Allen said they are in the process of sending them back to the military. “We’ve had no use for them in several years,” Allen.
The next meeting of the Harrodsburg City Commission will be on Monday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m.