LaHarpe considers level utility payment plan



November 11, 2015 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — Utilities and city park equipment were front and center for much of Tuesday’s LaHarpe City Council meeting.
The Council approved a 50-cent per month increase in water meter charges for each customer, a hike that should be enough to offset a slight increase in water rates assessed to the city starting Jan. 1.
Meanwhile, the Council asked for additional information before it would reinstitute a level pay plan for utility customers.
The practice was discontinued earlier this year because the formula used for figuring monthly averages for a patron’s yearly use of utilities was inadequate.
The Council agreed, 3-2, to drop requirements that rural water districts the city serves have back-flow valves that would have prevented contaminated water from entering LaHarpe’s system in case of a line breach along their lines. Such a requirement was above and beyond what the state suggests for water districts, Mayor Mae Crowell noted. The change passed, 3-2, with Danny Ware Jr. and Sara’Nicole Prock opposed.
And in a related matter, the Council voted to reimburse Ray Maloney $1,200 for his work to install a similar valve along water lines north of LaHarpe.
The city briefly considered acquiring the water lines — prompting Maloney to install the valve — before deciding against it earlier this year.

A SPLIT Council declined to act on Prock’s proposal to purchase playground equipment for $16,937.
Prock noted the equipment — an elaborate array of colorful, twisted climbing features geared for youngsters ages 5-12 — normally sells for more than $31,000. The discounted price would expire Nov. 20.
Council members agreed to pay up to $5,000 annually for playground equipment.
Prock suggested the city should consider a lease purchase agreement, to pay for the equipment over several year, using the $5,000 stipend. She also said she would reach out to volunteers to assist with installing the equipment to save on those costs.
Prock admitted the short deadline prevented her from approaching local business owners about donations or sponsorships; likewise, it also prevented her from organizing any type of fundraisers.
Council members David Lee and Ron Knavel Sr. both said they were uncomfortable with earmarking that much money on such short notice, but were open to having a special meeting later this month if Prock could get a better handle on financing options and get a true picture of installation costs.
In a related matter, the Council agreed to install surveillance cameras at the park, if the LaHarpe PRIDE Committee agrees to split the costs.
Police Chief Jason Prock has worked with PRIDE member and LaHarpe Communications president Harry Lee Jr. on finding a camera system capable of providing coverage of the park, and recorded at a remote location.
The system would cost less than $2,000, if the city did the installation, Lee said.
The PRIDE Committee will meet Monday to vote on the proposal.

COUNCIL members also:
— Approved a new ordinance that regulates burning after sundown. Such burning is now permissible as long as it’s in a pit or enclosed device, such as a barbecue pit or chiminea. Bonfires or open burning brush piles still are prohibited after sundown.
— Approved a new ordinance giving better clarity on storing cars. The policy prohibits the long-term storage of disabled or junked vehicles, but allows exceptions for such things as antique vehicle restorations, racecars and trucks used in mud runs.
— Learned from Chief Prock that the speed limits on the streets surrounding the park have been reduced to 20 mph.

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