Frankford properties seeking water service could be annexed

Frankford officials this week again discussed the possibility of providing town water service to the residents on Delaware Avenue and to Trinity Holiness Church. The issue has been under discussion since last fall, when Delaware Avenue residents asked about the possibility of getting a water line run to their street.

The houses and church are outside of town limits, Town Administrator Terry Truitt had explained at the council’s Oct. 1 meeting, but she said annexation of the parcels could be a possibility in the future. Whether or not they are ever annexed, for the Town to provide the service, water mains would have to be run to the area, as they don’t exist now. The council had said they were willing to contact contractors to get prices so they could continue the discussion of the request.

In November 2012, Council President Jesse Truitt said contractors Bunting & Murray had given them a rough estimate of $130,000 to run about 1,500 feet of 8-inch line. Terry Truitt explained that they could start to look into the possibility of trying to get grant money for the project through the State’s Office of Drinking Water, but annexation was most likely a first step, since the properties are not actually inside town limits.

Kyle Gulbronson of URS, the town’s engineering firm, explained the annexation process and said that one issue with such a move is that annexed properties have to be contiguous to the town. There are two parcels between existing town limits and the first property whose owner wishes it to be annexed. Gulbronson said that, as long as one of the owners of the parcels in between — one of which is already half inside town limits — didn’t object, the annexation process could start. He said it would take about 60 days,

At the February council meeting, Jesse Truitt asked if there had been any contact with state Sen. Gerald Hocker or Rep. John Adkins to inquire about the legislators possibly assisting with getting funds for the project. He was told they would be in the near future.

“The quicker you can do it, the more we can get ahead,” said Truitt. “But we have asked everybody and haven’t come up with anything yet.”

The council also reviewed bids for trash and recycling, after Peninsula Oil solicited their business this fall. The council chose to get bids from six contractors, including Peninsula Oil and their current provider, Chesapeake Waste.

Peninsula Oil’s bid was about 32 cents per customer less than Chesapeake Waste’s bid, but the council decided that, instead of changing, they would ask Chesapeake Waste to reduce their current price by the same amount and continue with them, if so, because they are happy with the current service.

Police Chief William Dudley reported that the Town’s new police car has been ordered and should be in town in the next few months. He also reported a busy January, with 33 calls for service, 50 traffic arrests and two criminals arrests.

The Town is also getting information about potentially gaining the ability to take credit and debit cards for payment for town services. Terry Truitt said she has been in contact with other towns to see how they take credit and debit payments and has looked into the possibilities for Frankford.

“It is convenient,” said Council Member Cheryl Workman. “A lot of people don’t ever write checks anymore.”

Terry Truitt said it was just another “step into the 21st century” for the Town.

In other news, the town council decided not to consider a request from the Indian River High School Band Boosters for financial assistance that would go to help students who could not afford this year’s band trip, to Atlanta. They based their decision on the fact that donations are not a line item in the Town’s budget and that they couldn’t give money to one organization.

“We can’t support it, because then we would have to support everybody that asks for donations.” said Jesse Truitt.

The council agreed that they couldn’t set a precedent with no money budgeted for donations.

Resident Jerry Smith questioned the council again about water billing — something that has been a topic in the town for some time and has been debated again in recent months.

“There are five people on council, but it seems there is only one. You have not done anything with the ongoing perpetual problems with water bills,” said Smith.

He refuted town officials’ claims that “smart” meters and a one-person office can have an effect on timely water billing.

“Water bills used to be timely, and they were handwritten and figured with an adding machine. Now we use Quickbooks and computers, but the bills are still consistently late. Smart meters are not the only thing to solve the problem, and no one has even expressed that they would like to fix the problem,” said Smith.

Jesse Truitt said the Town is in discussions about getting a grant for upgrading the meters, most of which are now read manually. The Town has maintained that that such an upgrade would make a difference in the timing of the bills.

“We are looking to get a grant, and when we know something, we will let you know,” said Jesse Truitt.