Rockford Utilities waives water bills for tornado victims
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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
While still undergoing recovery efforts, tornado victims in southern Coosa County will be able to have some relief.
During its meeting last Monday, the Rockford Utilities Board discussed its customers in the Equality and Rehobeth area who had been affected by the tornado.
Board Member Ronnie Joiner mentioned the water customers on Alabama Highway 9 and along County roads 14 and 18 and suggested not charging the residents whose houses were destroyed.
Board members proceeded to discuss how to determine which ones would still need to pay their bills and which ones would not, based on the amount of damage done to their properties.
After discussion, the board instead unanimously approved waiving the water bills for everyone affected by the tornado. This will apply to the upcoming bill and is for one month only.
The board also discussed a 2.2% Parker Creek tax that had been attached to customers’ bills. The tax had been collected for the past year ever since Rockford Utilities bought Parker Creek, although it should not have been collected any longer at that point.
The board mentioned that the tax had not been paid to the state during that time because the board did not have to pay it.
As such, the board discussed the best way to handle this incorrect tax payment. It also stated that the tax will be removed from those customers’ bills going forward.
Board attorney Nancy Kirby recommended that the board determine how much each customer is owed and refund it as a credit on their future bills.
After further discussion, the board unanimously approved reimbursing the amount of the tax that was collected accidentally for the past year to customers via a credit to their account.
In other business, with the board having previously had its Certificates of Deposit, or CDs, changed to its name instead of being under the Town of Rockford, it was mentioned that the bank requires three signatures for those CDs.
The board unanimously approved for Chair Ronnie Brown, Raymond Abrams and Utilities Clerk Deanna Lesley to be listed as signatures on the CDs and have the ability to sign them in the future.
Brown also mentioned the board’s business licenses to the members, stating that it was $5,000 last year based on the board’s 2021 finances, but that this year it is $6,000. The board paid both the 2022 and 2023 business licenses.
In the meeting it was also stated that the settlement with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM, for the new sewer plant was approved. The settlement was signed by Circuit Judge David Law on January 12.
This agreement allows the Utilities Board to complete stages of the project with certain deadlines established. The completion of the plant is set for April 2025.
Engineer Ed Morris is sending information regarding the ADEM settlement to the USDA to facilitate the money that the board is awaiting from the USDA, according to Utilities Clerk Lesley.
Regarding the board’s new building, Utilities Superintendent Wade Brown reported that the plumbing had been completed and that they were ready to proceed with doing the Sheetrock and drop-in ceiling next.
Brown also mentioned having some cost estimates available for that next phase of the project, stating that he could get more estimates, as well. After brief discussion, the board unanimously approved going forward with that portion of the project at the best price available among the estimates submitted.
Also regarding the Utilities Board, the project to provide water to the Richville area is still ongoing. A public hearing regarding the matter was to take place at the board’s January meeting last week.
Meeting attendees signed a piece of paper reflecting their attendance at the meeting. Documents stating that the hearing was held have been submitted to ADEM, and according to Utilities Superintendent Brown they are now waiting to hear back from ADEM on this matter.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Utilities Board will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, February 20.