Utility Bills Draw Residents Ire

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Bill Hunt brought his utility bill to the Vicksburg Village Council meeting to voice his concern about being charged interest because he didn’t receive his previous quarterly billing.

By Sue Moore

Bill Hunt complained to the Vicksburg Village Council about his water bill after he was charged past-due interest when he had failed to pay the previous quarterly bill.

Hunt, who resides on Kathryn Street in the Hughey sub-division, was one of 404 residents who had not received an invoice for that quarter. Village Manager Jim Mallery explained that billing is outsourced to a company which stamps and mails the bills for the village. Mallery said he has authorized village staff to waive the charges if the resident has always been on time with payment in the past. About 100 homes out of the 400 have a good payment record, he said.

Drinking water testing in the village will continue by outsourcing it to a Plainwell company, following resignation of a village employee who had carried out the task. Nobody else in the Department of Public Works (DPW) has the certification. Mallery stressed that the testing must continue to insure safe water in the village. The cost is $28,000 per year.

In other monthly business, the Planning Commission will absorb the Downtown Development Authority through new ordinances to update bylaws and rules of procedure, Mallery told the Council. Current members of the DDA can apply to take a seat on the commission which will be enlarged from seven members to nine. John DeBault, long-time chair of the DDA, wondered what his role would be under the new system. Denny Olson asked if the projects the DDA sponsors such as Christmas in the Village and the façade grants will go forward. Mallery assured him that these projects would go forward, possibly under a sub-committee of the Planning Commission, and that DeBault would be invited to apply for one of the additional seats.

“We don’t have any intention of getting rid of any of the great strides the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has made in the last few years,” Trustee Tim Frisbie said. The shift will begin in January.

The Council also approved a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to receive grant funds for the trail that is to be extended north from the current trail to the Portage city line.

Mallery’s assistant, Alex Lee, reported on plans to rebuild the village’s web site and incorporate live streaming of council meetings. The target date is January. Lee assured members that the improvements will be fully operational by then.

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