LOCAL GOVERNMENT

COPPERAS COVE — The city of Copperas Cove continues to follow-up on complaints about its third-party water supplier.

Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah made a report on billing and other complaints about Fathom at the council’s Tuesday night regular meeting.

Haverlah noted that some of the problems were errors made when customers set up their auto pay date on their accounts. Customers were setting up payment dates well past the bill’s due date, generating late fees and, in some cases, disconnect notices.

When addressing the issue of double billing, Haverlah said some customers have received multiple bills very close together. However, his investigation showed the bills were not duplicates. Instead, customers were getting bills for prior months and then getting their current bill within days of each other.

Haverlah said the issue most often occurred when there were problems manually reading meters, or connectivity problems with newer meters. In either case, customers were not notified that their bill might be late, causing confusion and complaints.

As for customers getting numerous notices that they have a leak, Haverlah said the system is set up to notify customers if their water flow is constant at a high rate for 12 hours. That notice can be triggered just by using a lot of water on a particular day.

However, customers can go into the settings for their account and change the level of water use that triggers those notices. Haverlah said he tested this himself and it greatly reduced the notifications he received for excessive water use.

Haverlah said the city has reached out to all customers who have made complaints seeking to help resolve their issues. He added that some customers continue to make the same complaints even after the city has resolved the problem.

Among other business, the council decided to grant a request for funding by the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce for this year’s Rabbit Fest.

The request by Chamber President Alicia Menard was presented outside of the usual timeline for Hotel Occupancy Tax funding. Mayor Pro Tem Dan Yancey asked why the Chamber was making such a late application for funding.

“From what I have been told, the Chamber’s direction at that time didn’t lie in applying for HOT funds,” Menard answered. She was named the president of Chamber in February and put in the application for city funding last month.

“This event needs the HOT funding, it qualifies for it, and so ... I just felt like I should give it a try,” Menard said.

The council did not give the Chamber the requested $13,375 due to a limit on the amount of money it could give from the HOT fund for support of the arts.

The council did approve a budget amendment to give $11,255 to the Chamber for the event. The vote carried 5-2, with council members Kirby Lack and Charlie Youngs voting no.

Lack had objected to the fact that the council was making an exception to its rules to allow the Chamber to request the funds. Youngs said during the vote that he wanted the Chamber to get all the money it requested, so he was voting no.

Menard said after the meeting that she was excited to get the funding and grateful to the council for granting her request.

“I look forward to accomplishing a lot in the future together (with the council),” Menard said, promising to apply for HOT funding for a variety of Chamber activities.

In other action, the council:

Decided to approve a proposal to lower the all-day rental fee for the Copperas Cove Civic Center from $500 to $250.

Approved a change to the city’s Personnel Improvement Plan to bring an in-house engineer to the city’s staff. The measure passed also renames the Planning department, which will now be called Development Services, and reclassifies two positions in the Parks and Recreation department.

Approved a switch in committee assignments, letting Council member Joann Courtland move to the Citizens Focus Group, while Council member Fred Chavez switches to the Quality of Life committee.

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