Several agenda items were tabled at the Tuesday meeting of the Cherokee City Council, awaiting more information and more deliberation.
Tom Deiker, Cherokee Mental Health Institute (MHI) superintendent, and Tony Morris, MHI business manager, were hoping to get an answer on Tuesday concerning a water and sewer bill for March and April. The MHI fiscal year ends on June 30 and they need to resolve budgetary matters.
The March bill is over $45,000. The April bill is expected to also be extremely large.
The extremely large amount of water usage was the result of a broken line with the water drained away through a damaged sewer line.
Since the water line is a service line for MHI, it is technically the responsibility of the MHI, but it was pointed out at a previous meeting that the staff at the MHI has no way to read its water meter and be aware of the problem before notified by the city.
The state has approved major work on water and sewer lines and equipment soon at the MHI. This had been requested several years ago. When the work is completed, the MHI will be able to read the meter on a daily basis.
Morris said the work will save the city money, since there is old city infrastructure that will be bypassed or replaced.
Ron Johnson, city council member, asked the MHI representatives how they would feel about a $10,000 a month settlement for the two months of high water bills.
Deiker said that no one at the MHI had the authority to make an agreement on the matter for the state.
Dwight Varce, council member, said this is a major decision and he would like to have until the next council meeting to consider it.
The matter was tabled.
The matter of burning yard waste will be tabled until August, before next fall's burning season. Some citizens have advocated eliminating open burning for health reasons. Varce has long opposed having an open burning season. He might be joined by one or more others the next time the matter comes for a vote.
"If there's that much abuse, maybe we have to do away with it," Doug Woods, council member, said. The abuse he was referred to involved burning wet leaves and logs.
"It would be nice to have open burning if people were considerate," Mick Mallory, council member, said.
Mallory withdrew an agenda item regarding reinstatement of Diane Cargin as billing clerk. She had been fired by the former city administrator, with that action being confirmed at a later date by a four to one vote of the city council, Mallory was the lone vote opposed to the termination.
At the Tuesday meeting, Mallory said he still did not have support on the matter and would not make a motion.
Connie Ladwig, who also works at city hall, stated that city hall has operated on a short staff for seven weeks. She said that Deb Taylor, city clerk, has had to take work home because there is not enough time to complete work during regular hours.
Wally Miller, Jr., city attorney, said the matter of Cargin's grievance is being handled as quickly as possible. An arbitrator has been appointed who will decide whether the termination was justified.