Policy change may be in the making

Dec. 28—BATESVILLE — The Batesville Water and Gas Utility is considering a policy change after a service bill was contested by a local couple; however, the water and gas utility managers were unable to provide a potential policy amendment on Tuesday as requested by the Utilities Service Board at its previous meeting.

As was reported in the Daily News, Batesville resident Char Dallas attended the November 8 City Council meeting to contest a policy that required her to pay for a repair on the lateral connecting her tap-in to the main. The lateral ran under Egs Blvd. in front of Dallas’s home and she was instructed to hire a contractor to dig under the road to repair the leak.

She had noticed the leak outside their newly built home and reported it to the water company in early September.

The contractor contacted by Dallas did not complete the work, telling Dallas that the water company should make any repairs under the public road. Dallas did not have the line fixed after receiving a 48-hour notice from the water company to do so.

According to the Batesville Water & Gas Utility, Dallas was given nearly three weeks after receiving a 48-hour notice to fix the line was issued and did not do so.

The Water Company repaired the line and the road after digging into it then sent a bill to Dallas. At the November 8 Batesville City Council meeting, Dallas contested the approximately $900 bill for a repair she did not contract.

It should be noted that the instruction received by Dallas from the water company was to hire a contractor. That contractor’s proposed bill was over $4,000, so the water company’s bill was more than $3,000 less, but the company did not intend to assist the couple with the repair or any cost-savings on the leak that they did not cause and did report.

Mrs. Dallas attended the November 23 Utilities Service Board meeting with her husband, Steve, to request a policy change. The couple questioned whether the Batesville Water Utility Rules and Regulations approved and effective 1933 were the rules still in place.

Water Utility Manager Eric Laker said those rules were revised as of August 10, 2015. Laker was unable to tell Dallas how recently, if ever, the part of the policy concerning service line repairs under the road was revised.

The couple hoped to amend the policy regarding residential customers so the Water & Gas Utility would accept the fees for repairs between the main and the tap-in of customers whose service lines run under the road.

At the time of the meeting, the couple had not paid the bill, but Steve Dallas has since confirmed that they received and paid the bill in the month between Utilities Service Board meetings.

The Water & Gas Utility saw a $600,000 increase on their cash balance over the past year.

There was some agreement between those attending the November 23 meeting that this type of revenue increase should constitute a policy change.

Board member Hank Pictor requested that the managers of the Water and Gas Utility come to their next meeting on December 28 with an amendment that works for the citizens of Batesville. Tuesday’s meeting went through their regular reports and ended with a lack of report on the potential policy change.

“We don’t have any new information yet on the new water service that we talked about last month,” said Gas Utility Manager Scott Bauer. “So hopefully next month we’ll have something put together.”

Laker said he’s asked for Greensburg’s water policy and he and Bauer brought up a few reasons why this process will be time-consuming.

Pictor suggested that any policy changes make a distinction to offer more protection to residential customers. Presumably this means by taking responsibility for the laterals leading to the main so that residential customers are only responsible for the area of their water line from their tap-in into their homes.

Josie Clark: [email protected] or 812-651-0873.