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Cumby council discusses utility issues

by Taylor Nye

The city of Cumby discussed water meter issues, among other items of business at their regular November meeting. 

OLD BUSINESS

The council opened the meeting at 6:30 p.m. 

Mayor Doug Simmerman informed the council that the city would now use an automated phone answering service that would allow city employees to put up to ten callers on hold. He stated that not only would it come at no cost to the city, he believed it would save the city in excess of $200 per month.

Council member Ryan Horne recognized Cumby ISD athletics for their recent excellent performance, including the football and volleyball programs as well as individuals within those programs named to all-district levels. 

The council unanimously voted to move the approval or denial of the October meeting minutes to their regular December meeting, as the minutes were not yet prepared. 

The council unanimously passed their consent agenda. 

WATER BUSINESS

The council then heard a presentation from Rick Doyles from Underground Utility Supply of Longview regarding auto-read water meters from 6:37 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. 

The council also discussed billing procedure vis a vis water and wastewater from 7:54 p.m. to 8:17 p.m. 

Mayor pro tem Sheryl Lackey, who previously volunteered without pay as water clerk, said she believed the city was experiencing problems with utility payments. 

Lackey highlighted problems she had faced, including duplicated water addresses, duplicated emailed vs. mailed bills, and those that pay in person having less of a grace period for late payments than those that pay online. 

Furthermore, said Lackey, disconnecting and reconnecting utilities uses up city resources.

“It’s the utility clerk’s time, it’s more paper… plus postage, and after hours reconnect fee,” Lackey said. “If our maintenance department is out doing something, they have to break away when they’ve got time.” 

Citizen Angela Lee commented that she would rather the city be able to switch accounts on a computer than manually disconnecting and reconnecting utilities for her renters. She stated one of her tenants never had their water switched into their name.

“It worries me about the integrity of the city really bad, because someone can’t pay attention,” Lee said. “I manage billing, and I can tell you who owes and who doesn’t. It’s just the integrity.” 

Council member Ryan Horne acknowledged there “have been a lot of integrity issues,” and told Lee “that’s what we’ve been working on.” 

“You’re not wrong,” Horne said. “That’s what we’ve been working on.” 

Lee stated she believes the city is not up to date on a year and a half of water billing. 

NEW BUSINESS

The council entered into executive session from 7:21 p.m. to 7:46 p.m. to discuss the sale of two city properties: 102 Frisco Street and 206 East Main Street. Upon emerging from executive session, the council unanimously approved the sale of the two properties to Jinjer Peeks for $7500 each.

The council discussed the city’s outstanding bill with Constellation Energy in the amount of $96,075.11. They unanimously authorized its payment. 

The council discussed the city’s outstanding bill with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the amount of $230 per month for 72 months for a total of $16,414.49. They unanimously authorized its payment. 

The council unanimously authorized the city to close city offices beginning on Thursday for both Christmas and New Year’s holidays, in keeping with the guidance of the Texas Municipal League. 

The council unanimously authorized the mayor (Simmerman) and mayor pro tempore (undecided) to accept documents and act as signatories for monies related to the CARES Act. 

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:41 p.m.

By Taylor Nye

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