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City fields reduction requests for high water bills

Two more requests were made to the city of Park Rapids for reduction in water and sewer billing.

Requests have been coming to the city regularly throughout the winter. The reasons for the requests vary, such as someone having a high bill because a leak occurred while someone was out of town.

At Tuesday's Park Rapids City Council meeting, one request came from a Park Rapids couple.

In a letter to the city, they said they returned to Park Rapids after being out of town for several weeks to find their water softener full of water. Their latest bill was $1,400. A sunflower seed was found in the valve, which kept the system running continually. They were told by the water softener company that the only way a seed could get in the softener was through the water system.

Scott Burlingame, public works director, said it would be impossible for a seed to get through the water system because the screen in the water meter filters debris as small as sand.

The council approved denying the request, based on recommendation from staff.

The second water bill reduction request came from Marilyn Whitchurch. She received a bill of $567.97 for 71,800 gallons of water between January and March.

The 82-year-old has been living at an assisted living complex in Hudson, Wis., and the Park Rapids home had been unoccupied and was listed for sale.

Whitchurch's daughter, Joan Kopperud, attended Tuesday's meeting and said they were baffled by the high bill.

Burlingame said public works employees were also baffled because they couldn't find a leak or any indication of where they water went. The meter seems to be working fine.

The city has in the past approved cutting water and sewer bills in half by taking off the sewer portion.

They approved this recommendation.

Burlingame said it's a good idea for people to shut off their water if they will be gone to ensure nothing like this will happen.

In other business, the council:

n Approved two handicapped parking stalls on 2nd Street for Calvary Lutheran Church. Staff recommended approval but Calvary will be required to purchase the signs.

n Approved $1,100 for pots for Main Avenue flower baskets. Two flower baskets will be placed on each pole, with a total of 54 baskets.

The pots will be reused in the future so the cost should be less other years, said Cynthia Jones, representing the Downtown Business Association. The DBA also contributes to the flower baskets.

The donation from the city includes $500 from the Parks Board and $600 from liquor store reserves.

The baskets will likely go up the week before Memorial Day, depending on the weather.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561