DANVILLE — The city’s been inundated with phone calls about the new utility bills that residents received from the city on Friday and that commercial and industrial businesses will receive before the end of the month.

The billing is now by the city, separate from the Danville Sanitary District, for city sewer, garbage and the public safety pension fee. There have been many questions, such as how and where people can pay.

City Comptroller Ashlyn Massey told the Danville City Council’s Public Services Committee Tuesday night, “There’s been a couple bumps in the road... There was a lot to do in 10 months, I’m not saying that it’s perfect. We’re doing what we can to get the job done.”

Massey said they’ve taken 1,039 phone calls since Friday on the new bills, a call every 36 seconds during regular business hours.

She said they’re happy to answer the calls and are doing the best they can.

“They’ve been hustling hard,” Mayor Rickey Williams Jr., too said about city staff who also are staying late, past normal city hall hours. “They’re doing all they can to make this as smooth as possible.”

Massey said letters were sent to direct debit and auto-pay customers. Other information can be found on the city’s website or by calling or emailing city hall.

Ward 2 Alderman Rick Strebing said he stood in line around 15-20 minutes regarding the billing, and many people don’t have a computer.

Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the committee heard from from former City Engineer David Schnelle asking the city to consider a return on investment, the city’s long-term future and public safety with the city’s Covid relief money.

He suggested the city look at a subcommittee and input from past mayors and leaders on spending the “largest expenditure of funds this city has received.”

Williams said the city is looking at purchasing a fire truck, maybe two over the next four to five years; violence prevention initiatives; and major sewer and storm water projects in using part of the money.

The city was allocated about $24 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Williams said the longer the city waits on completing needed sewer projects, the costs continue to increase.

Williams also said the public has had a couple opportunities already and has every week at a city committee or council meetings to offer suggestions on how the city should spend the money.

In other business, the committee recommended approving: applying for up to $5,000 in FM Global fire prevention grant funds for a hydrocarbon monitor for fire investigations and additional fire prevention materials for the fire stations; and applying for up to a $5,000 Walmart grant for fire extinguisher prop for the fire stations. There are no city funding matches needed for either grant.

The full city council will act on the items Dec. 7.

Danville Fire Chief Don McMasters said they may work with Watchfire Signs to help build a fire extinguisher prop to work with students.

McMasters also reported there are four firefighters on workers compensation. One is a non-duty related injury and may potentially retire due to a knee needing replaced.

Some others also could retire, he said, adding that they could need up to three or four new hires by early next year. One new firefighter will graduate academy on Dec 3.

He said the fire department has about 13 people that are retirement age by 2023.

Fire Lieutenant Daren Woods recently retired.

In other business, Massey also reported there will be a public hearing on the city’s new budget at the Dec. 7 city council meeting. Second drafts of the budget were being sent to aldermen this week.

Trending Video

Recommended for you