The Benham City Council discussed a variety of business during a meeting on Thursday, including a grant the city has received for over $15,000.
City Clerk Jessica Smith informed the council about the grant.
“I thought the power board was applying this time for the Bob Frazier grant, so I didn’t submit anything,” Smith said. “Apparently, either something fell through or they didn’t get it. I don’t know exactly what happened, but you can’t apply for two separate things on one application.”
Smith said a call was made to Mayor Wanda Humphrey inquiring what the city would need that would qualify for the grant.
“She told them we needed fire hydrants,” Smith said. “We didn’t hear anything else about it until I got a letter in the mail that said we’ve been awarded $15,096.”
Smith explained the letter arrived on Tuesday.
“The check was going to be given out on Thursday,” Smith said. “George (council member George Massey) went on behalf of the fire department…they went down there and got the check. That’s been deposited.”
Smith said city had originally planned for 10 fire hydrants, but the price has gone up and there are some additional parts required.
“We’ll work on that next week,” Smith told the council.
Smith also spoke to the council concerning a collection of “dead accounts,” which is money that is owed to the city that is not possible to collect at this time.
“Each month, there are 20 to 30 accounts,” Smith explained. “What the problem is, we don’t have any addresses on these people anymore. So what I would like to do is turn these accounts off to where they don’t print anymore and they don’t show up on your report every month.”
Smith explained she was not suggesting forgiving the debt, but rather moving the accounts to another folder in the system.
“Put these in a folder stating if these people come back they can’t have their water turned on until they pay,” Smith said.
Smith advised the council on how the situation has occurred.
“The first time after they move, you’ll get a forwarding address,” Smith explained. “Then, the first couple (of bills) will go out, but then they move again and there’s no address or way to get hold of them.”
Smith advised the panel the dead accounts amounted to approximately $17,000. She pointed out most of the dead accounts were created before she became city clerk.
“The power board has done the same thing,” said Smith. “They did it in order to save paper and ink and to have the report balance out.”
The council agreed with Smith’s suggestion.
Smith also updated the council on state aid money for the fire department.
“They got $7,750,” Smith reported. “It has to be spent before the end of June for audit purposes.”
Smith told the panel the fire department purchased new hoses for the fire truck, a positive pressure ventilation fan and renewed the service agreement for the machinery needed to fill tanks.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde.