RIPLEY - Ripley Town Council approved an increase in water rates from $3.45 to $4.20 per 1,000 gallons for both districts at its regular meeting Dec. 12. Supervisor Doug Bowen said the increase was necessary for the water department to meet its budget for 2014. The department has been running a deficit in District I, he said. Also, the town needs to prepare for anticipated expenses.
"We've got an aging system that's going to require replacement parts. We have to get ready for that," he said. Bowen also noted that two water department employees will be retiring in four years and it takes three years for someone to obtain a water license. "We can't just go out and hire anyone," he said. "We have to make sure we can pay for it."
The town has already held the public hearings necessary to implement the increase. In another matter, the council voted to develop a policy to charge for the disposal of older televisions and computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes. These items will be accepted on the second Saturday of each month. Certificates must be purchased from the town clerk prior to drop off. Bowen said the decision comes after, RCR&R, the company that performs e-cycling for the town, stated that they would begin charging 25 cents a pound for disposal of these items.
"We've got about $400 of stuff collected already. That's what we budgeted," Bowen said. The council has yet to set an official price for drop off of the items, but it was suggested to charge $10 for computer monitors and $20 for televisions. In other business, the council tabled a request from the Zoning Board Association to increase zoning application fees from $25 to $100.
"It may sound like a simple change," Bowen said, "but it is a zoning change and needs to go through a public hearing."
The council approved a motion to allow the town attorney to help employees who are involved in health insurance disputes.
"It's been a frustrating year and a half for some employees," Bowen said.
Bowen said the town is working with environmental personnel regarding the demolition of the Corner Bar at the intersection of Route 20 and Route 76. Efforts to complete the process at the lowest cost possible have met with several hurdles, he said.
"It won't be done by the end of this year, but hopefully in January," Bowen said. "We hope to get what would normally be a $100,000 job down to $40,000. It won't be easy, but we can do it."
Town Clerk Rebecca Rowe Carvallo gave a public thanks to Robyn Johnstone for putting up decorations in front of the school and to Martin Dorman for hanging the wreath.
"If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have any decorations at all," she said. The town's regular decorations were not able to be put up this year because of the need to remove the old festoon outlets from the light poles. The process of removal and installation of new ones is currently underway.
Carvallo also reported that about one-third of the town's materials in storage have been moved to the new office location in the school. Personnel from the sewer department have been instrumental in the move, she said.