Archive for Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Council to decide water dispenser’s fate

December 29, 2004

During the next few months, the city's water dispenser will be closed -- and it's possible the dispenser will be closed permanently.

Currently, the dispenser, which provides water for a fee, is broken, according to City Superintendent Butch Rogers. And it will be up to the city council whether to repair the dispenser, which is used by a variety of people, including lawn service workers and out-of-town residents who have problems with wells.

If the city decides to continue offering bulk-water sales at the dispenser, Rogers said he wants to move the apparatus to a more convenient location when the city undertakes an improvement project on Fourth Street this summer. He anticipates repairing and relocating the dispenser will cost about $20,000.

"Or, we can eliminate it all together," Rogers told the council Monday night.

In 2004, the dispenser brought in $4,000. During a recent drought year, that amount was in the $13,000 range, city officials said.

The city regularly must spend money to repair the dispenser, which often falls victim to vandals and has other problems because of its age. Rogers said the dispenser was in place when he joined the city staff 20 years ago.

Rogers told council members he'd like a decision on the future of the water dispenser by March. This week, as a stop-gap measure for winter, city workers plan to dig up the water line leading to the dispenser and temporarily cap it.

Council members agreed they wanted to leave the dispenser shut down for winter. Some council members wondered whether the price for water at the dispenser should increase. Currently, users pay 25 cents per 50 gallons for water, Rogers said.

"Are people willing to pay more for the water?" council member Steve Gumm asked. "... That's an alternative. If you want to have a service, people need to pay for it."

If the city council decides to continue operating the dispenser, Rogers said, it will be moved to one end of the lot or another.

"It's in the middle of that lot," he said.

And he wants to construct a concrete pad and drainage at the site, so water doesn't flow into Fourth Street and freeze in the winter and doesn't create mud during other months.

Rogers did caution council members, if they decide to do away with the water dispenser.

"City hall's going to get some calls, trust me," he said. "And maybe the mayor and the council people who are available, trust me."

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