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Caledonia Aldermen Hear Water Rate Update, Advertise for Town Clerk

BY BRIAN JONES
Staff Writer
brian.jones@test.columbuspacket.com/packet

The Caledonia Board of Aldermen met for about half an hour before Tuesday’s election, dealing with some routine business before recessing.
Town Attorney Jeff Smith reported that the request to increase water rates was moving closer to approval.  The town has been struggling for two years to get a water rate increase approved, only to meet hurdle after hurdle.
“I had a meeting in my office with the public service commissioner for the northern district and several staffers,” Smith said.  “We were assured that all our exhibits that we already submitted can be used, and that our water rate increase will be considered and they didn’t see any problem with it.”
That being said, Water Superintendent Benny Coleman explained that there was one more demand the Public Service Commission was throwing in at the last minute.
“We’re going to have to change the way we do deposits,” Coleman said.  “They proposed two different ways of going about it.  One was giving everyone their deposit back after a year.  That would cost between $75,000 and $100,000.  The other was to pay interest on their deposits.  I would suggest crediting their bill with the interest on the last bill of the year.  No money would change hands, it would just be credited back to the bill.  We have to do this before they’ll let us move forward.”
“After two years, this is the first I’ve heard of it,” Quinn Parham said.
“This is the first we’ve heard of it, too,” Coleman said.
“What else are they going to throw at us?” Parham asked.  “Why hold this over us?”
Savage made a motion to pay interest on the deposits, and was seconded by Willis.  It passed unanimously.
“We talked to the people who do our accounting software about implementing this, and they said that out of more than three hundred customers we’re the first public entity to have to do this,” Coleman said.
“I think the rule was put into place earlier this year,” Smith said.  “But going forward I think everyone who wants a water rate increase will have to do it.”

In other business, the board approved advertising for a town clerk.  Caledonia has been without a full-time clerk since Interim Clerk Krista Hill resigned in April.  Former Clerk Judith Whitcomb has been filling the position part-time.
The aldermen postponed making a decision until the new board was voted in.
Parham made a motion that an ad be placed in the Dispatch and this newspaper, with an application deadline of the last business day in June.
The seven applications the town has already received will be considered along with any new ones.

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