By Collin Anderson
On Jan. 1, the Pioche Town Board was brought together to review the issues facing their community, with one of the hottest topics of the day being the rise in Pioche’s utility bills. Among the other subjects on the docket for the day were what to do with property donated to the town, the possibility of hiring someone to help repair the electrical grid, and the completion of the curb and gutter project.
Starting with the regular business of paying the bills and approving minutes and agendas, the board was regaled with the monthly financial report, followed by the requested adjustment of some of the town’s boundary lines to better reflect the real position of certain lots.
After this, the subject of the donation of the lot located at 550 Main Street was brought back up, which in past meetings has been seen as a possible liability and safety hazard. Very little was added to the conversation, except that Franklin Katschke was informed of the issue and said that he will provide more legal information once he gets the chance to do some research.
Next up, the board officially changed the date of their meetings to the third Tuesday of the month, as opposed to the current second Tuesday meetings. This was done to ensure that the meetings would be held once the financial reports were sufficiently completed, therefore giving the board a more accurate budget to work with.
The next subject had to do with the adjustment of some employee descriptions, with some of the members of the board finding issue with the lack of residency requirements, but in the end the issue was tabled for another meeting.
Following this, the subject of hiring an electrical firm came up, but the city manager, Nathan Adams, opposed the idea of hiring an electrical engineer at this time, while the board considered meeting with two firms to discuss possible steps moving forward. This was tabled as well.
After moving on to a discussion about the open position at Pioche Public Utilities (PPU) (which was also tabled due to a few adjustments that needed to be made to the job description), the big subject of the meeting was brought to bear: raising power, water, and rates in the town of Pioche. Discussion on the matter led to few questions, but in the end, a few big pieces of information led to the final decision on the matter: first, when the board sent out a survey to help the town decide whether to change who controlled the public utilities, the people opted to keep PPU, which they were informed would come with a rise in utility prices.
Second, the prices were going to rise very little to begin with, with the water and sewer rates going up $2 each, and power going up $4. This in and of itself caused a little bit of discussion, with board members finding themselves concerned as to whether this was enough for the town to break even. More rate hikes are expected, but those changes will come later. With all of this information in their possession, the board unanimously voted to raise the rates to the above-mentioned amounts.
After the ending of Tayler Reifsnyder’s probation period, the board then moved on to the completion of the curb and gutter project. While the project has been completed, there are a few minor areas that need further attention, and the board even went so far as to request that the public inform them of any problem areas that could be worked on.
The chamber of commerce report was up next, with Les Derkovitz explaining that the chamber had a new and improved website and that with as high a quality webpage as it was, the board should take a look at it. After an update on flood control, the managers’ report, and a few other comments, the meeting was adjourned until February.