Past due sewer bills and the status of the fun park topped the agenda at the monthly meeting of the Highland City Council.
Specifications for yard and produce sales at the fire station, along with a possible solution to those owing past due sewer bills were also discussed.
Mayor Richard Smith reported to council the final survey of Lake Mirandy has been completed by Lindley Surveying. The report indicated the land required for the new fun park, which is being funded by a USDA grant, is short by approximately a half acre.
Mary Jo Clark, Park Committee Chairperson, then gave a report on the upcoming park that will be housed near Lake Mirandy in Highland. She said obtaining a small amount of additional land is just a temporary setback and the city is currently in negotiations to obtain the required property. Clark said she would further report to council when the land is obtained.
Clark stressed the fun park, which will include a playground and basketball court, "is still a go," but, after the land is obtained, council will have to approve the final plans. The council woman explained the park was originally slated to be constructed near the former club house, but due to overhead lines, the plans were moved to near Lake Mirandy. Clark said Entergy will move a pole at no cost to the city.
In the absence of Fire Chief Johnny Rickman, due to a training session, the mayor requested council's input on a suggestion to the chief to allow the public to host yard and produce sales near the fire station.
After much discussion between Alderman Jack Kimbrell, David Harris and Larry Allen regarding possible liability ramifications and setting sale dates and times, council came to an agreement. Members agreed those wishing to sell either produce or yard sales items should come to city hall and receive a no cost permit.
City Attorney Jon Abele suggested the permit should indicate the sale must be cleaned up in a designated time frame. Due to space limitations, the permits would be first come, first served and a sale eventwould require a person's constant attendance and must not exceed two days.
The council agreed, as a first step, to try the sales with the permit and see how it works.
Council then discussed remedies to collect past due sewer bills. The bills derive from private well users who have sewer service.
The city cannot shut off the water to the homes to remedy the problem, as is customarily done with those owing sewer bills.
Not only would shutting off the service cause legal problems for the city, it would cause health risks, as the users still utilize their toilets.
Council discussed remedies to deal with the issue. Abele explained the city can not take the users to small claims court because the court is designed for individuals to settle disputes and no lawyers are allowed in this type of court.
Alderman Harris and Kimbrell were in agreement some type of action needs to be taken.
The main idea included placing a lien upon the property. This seemed to be the general consensus among members of council.
Alderman Joe Black said, "As long as they think we aren't going to do anything, they aren't going to do anything."
Harris said he realized it may be years before the city could recoup money owed them through the property lien process, but the measure was a way to address the issue.
Council agreed to have Abele draft a letter to those owing past due bills, some in excess of $500, and mail them to the users explaining the city's intent to place liens on property if the debt is not satisfied.
The council's last order of business was the mayor seeking council's approval to solicit bids for chip and seal projects on Liberty Hill Circle, B. Johns Road and Applegate Road.
The city will place an advertisement for the bids in the newspaper, and they will be opened at the August 9 meeting of city council.
The Highland City Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at Highland City Hall.
The public is welcome to attend the public meetings.