The Fredonia Town Council last week began with a few changes to the Volunteer Fire Department. Harris Allen will remain chief, Mark Overas will be assistant chief, and Dustin Riddle and Cody Judd will be captains. Lief Baron was also accepted as a member of the department.

Public Works Director Jay Mackelprang explained the urgency of replacing the pumps at the sewer lagoons. He stated since the pumps were installed in 1999, each has been overhauled three times. If not replaced soon, the sewage will begin to seep over the dyke, which will be a serious problem. 

ADEQ expressed their concern about this situation, as well as the lack of a functional flow meter during their last visit. Because there are sufficient funds in the budget, as well as the urgency of the situation, the council voted to replace the two pumps and the flow meter, as required by ADEQ.

Mackelprang explained the current low water flow to the town. The pressure relief valve, which has been in place since 1973, is in need of being rebuilt. To replace the valve would cost approximately $7,000. However, Mackelprang is confident it can be rebuilt at a cost of $3,000. 

The Town Office will look into having it paid by the Water Project Grant. Otherwise, there is availability in the budget for the purchase.

Per council’s request, the cost of hydro-seeding the cemetery was researched. Findings showed the cost to be less than $8,000. The best time of year for this process is fall; it will be re-addressed at that time.

Demand meters were next on the agenda. Prior to any discussion, council member Alvin Johnson stated his vehement opposition to any demand charges. “It’s a money grab,” stated Johnson. He said commercial customers have a difficult time as it is with the sales tax structure, and felt charging the demand would cause many to go out of business.

Town Manager Dan Watson explained, “This isn’t us looking for money. This was a result of our energy audit.”

Office employee Kelly Hilding said this had been brought before the previous council in 2004 and in 2008. In 2008, it was discovered that customers with demand meters were not being charged for their demand use, a $60,000 per year difference. The office staff and previous town manager at that time said they were taking care of it. The recent audit proved they never took care of it. 

Hilding stated at the March 29 council meeting that the office staff was directed to start charging the demand. However, when they looked further into it, it was discovered that only about half of the commercial customers have demand meters, and the town code states all of them must. It is not appropriate to start charging one and not the other. 

She explained this was not a money grab. It was simply the staff informing the council of the situation and looking for direction based on town code and previous decisions made by this and former councils.

Watson explained the council could vote to change the town code if they choose to not charge the demand rate. The council tabled the subject to review code.

A budget work meeting was scheduled for July 6 at 5:30 p.m.