Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOP STORY >> Late fees for water bills

Leader senior staff writer

Water bills will be mailed on the 1st of the month and Lonoke water customers will incur a 10 percent penalty if the bill is not paid by the 10th of the month, according to an ordinance approved at Monday’s city council meeting.

“If any of the water services remains unpaid by the 20th day of the month, the water service shall be disconnected,” the ordinance reads, and the outstanding balance plus a $30 reconnection charge must be paid before service will be reconnected.

The council gave Regina Boyles an extension until 10 a.m. Thursday to place about $30,000 in an escrow account dedicated to restoring a house owned by the Boyles Family Trust at 417 Center Street or the dilapidated building will be torn down and hauled off.

The council approved $4,000 to pay a contractor to tear the house down if the escrow account isn’t established by the deadline.

The house has long been condemned and the Monday council meeting was the deadline for the money to be escrowed or else the demolition order would be executed.

It is Boyles’ daughter, Tina, who says she wants to rehabilitate the building and move into it, and toward that end, her mother had cashed a certificate of deposit, according to City Attorney Camille Bennett, but the money is in Boyles’ checking account, not tied to the house.

“We’re 31 months into this,” Bennett said, but so far the city had received nothing but promises and excuses. During that time, several other condemned homes had been either fixed by their owners or torn down.

It required a two-thirds vote of the council to reverse their previous order to have the money secured by meeting time or tear the building down.

And council members wanted to remind both Boyles women, represented by a friend at the meeting, that they could get $15,000 or $20,000 into the project and fall behind the construction schedule and see the house demolished, or could even sink the full $30,000 into the house and still not get it up to code and standards.