Tribune-Courier News Editor
BENTON — Residents obstructing access to water and gas meters could soon face new fines.
City attorney Martin Johnson provided a first reading to introduce two new ordinances that would fine residents $25 for every occasion a meter was inaccessible.
“People have properties where the meters are inaccessible because of fences, gates or especially dogs,” Johnson said.
The ordinance would allow city utilities to estimate charges if the meter could not be accessed. Johnson said fines can be added to bills and service can be interrupted if fines are unpaid.
The city also has the option of turning over delinquent bills to code enforcement for further action.
Council passed its first reading of the budget. City employees will enjoy an across-the-board 50-cent per hour raise.
In other action at its May 20 meeting, council rejected a plan to charge residents $25 for the city planner to inspect new fences to ensure motorists had a clear line of site.
Voting no were Josh Hendrickson, Charlie Edmonds and Rita Dotson. Butch Holland and Billy Thorpe reluctantly made the motions for the fee.
Johnson said the fee would defray expenses incurred by the planning department to make inspections.
The city will proceed with a study of parking related to the Woodman of the World’s application for an entertainment permit for a one-night monthly bingo game.
Johnson said as fees will not be charged to play, it does not need a charitable gaming license.
Benton will also increase its fees for entertainment permits to match the costs of legal notices posted in newspapers for hearings. Prior to the change, applications cost $25.
Roy Riley of Peel & Holland Insurance said city health insurance costs would decrease by a minimum of 1.5 percent. He attributed much of the decrease to the city’s health and wellness program.
Council also had a first reading to increase water tap-on fees to the city water supply. Present rates are $500 for city customers and $650 for customers outside city limits. According to the new schedule, fees will increase to $675 inside the city and $825 for other customers.
Benton veterinarian Dr. Robert McCrory addressed the council about the possibility of establishing a committee to manage frontage rental for the annual Tater Day festival. No action was taken on the request.