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Two advocate for more 'user-friendly' local government

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Orchard City Town Board members at their meeting on July 12 heard comments from constituents wanting changes in handling of town finances and a more "user friendly" government.

Doug Keller criticized town government for not being financially responsible with town money. He said that Orchard City earns only two-tenths of a percent (.2 percent) on its $5 million held on deposit. He said the town should be getting at least 1 percent return on the taxpayers' money. A dispute took place with Trustee Tom Huerkamp over the types of investment securities the town is allowed to hold its funds in.

Keller also said that the board of trustees claims its financial reserves are declining in the water funds when they are actually increasing. Having $2 million in a water disaster reserve fund "is ridiculous," he said. The money should instead be spent on system maintenance and upgrades in order to prevent a water system disaster.

Another town resident, Dave Stueck, said that "Orchard City is the best place to live" and offered suggestions on improving the operation of town government. "We need to work on our town government. We need to make town government more user friendly," he said. He suggested "printing town board meeting times on the water bills" in order to increase attendance. Mayor Ken Volgamore replied that "People know (the meeting times). They just don't care."

Stueck said that in 2004 he made a proposal to the town to read water meters for less cost to the town than it was costing to have town workers do it. He said that he never heard back from the town on his proposal.

Stueck suggested doing away with the town board's rule limiting public comment to three minutes. He called it "very, very silly." He also said the town needs to set up credit card auto pay for utility bills. He called the town payments system "really ridiculous."

Town administrator Melissa Oelke replied that the town does accept credit card payments and adds a $2.50 transaction fee to cover town costs for those who choose to use the service.

Stueck replied he knew that, and then added, "But $2.50 for a $40 bill? Give me a break."

In other business at the board's regular July 12 meeting, the following matters were dealt with:

• Staff reported that $600 in damage was done to the bulk water dispenser when a customer drove off without removing the fill tube from his tank. The customer, a local contractor, later called to claim responsibility for the mishap and offered to pay for damages.

• The town's long search for a used dump truck that will be able to share in snow plowing duties is hopefully nearing an end. A used unit priced at $62,500 has been located in Denver. It is to be inspected for suitability.

• A leak on the West Main water line was caused by failure of the cross connection with Coalby Domestic Water system. Staff reported that Coalby will pay for repairs.

•Trustees viewed a video on HopeWest. A HopeWest display is being planned with the trustee parks committee to be available for viewing by the public during the annual town picnic.

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