Smyrna Town Council had a lot to discuss at their April 1 meeting including the U.S. 13 Corridor Plan, election voting hours, economic development in Kent County, and electric rates. Here are a few other items discussed at the meeting.
Robo call system update
Council received an update on the use of a robo call system to deal with delinquent utility accounts.
The robo call system is more or less a courtesy call to residents reminding them of their delinquent utility account prior to the shut-off. Town Council approved a trial of the system in December as the town had roughly 1,000 to 2,000 customers each month who weren't paying their utility bill by the due date.
Hugg didn't have statistics with him but did give a general update.
"I can tell you that it's been pretty successful, it gives them [customers] a chance to pay it [bill] before they face shut-off," Hugg said.
Councilwoman Joanne Masten said council received an email from the town's IT Manager James Markow with statistics regarding the robo call system.
"James indicated that he would support it and thought we should precede doing the robo calling because it has made a difference," Masten said.
The town will continue using the robo call system for the time being.
Audit Committee upgraded to a standing committee
Council unanimously approved a motion to make the Audit Committee a standing committee; it was previously a subcommittee of the Finance Committee.
The motion also approved Dawn Haw-Young, a current member of the Finance Committee, to be the chair of the Audit Committee.
Mayor Pat Stombaugh said the recommendation was made by the Finance Committee because the town's auditors made the suggestion. The town works with a third-party auditor to do the audit.
"Their [the Audit Committee] major function is they would be a liaison between the auditors and council," Stombaugh said.
Concerns of FOIA violations
Two residents raised concerned with possible Freedom of Information Act violations by the town regarding meeting minutes on the town's website.
Melaine Minear said there is a lack of minutes from meetings as far back as November. Furthermore if the task isn't getting done due to workload, Minear said it should be given to someone who can post minutes in a timely manner.
Cindy Cogar also asked for council to address the issue.
Later in the meeting, Councilman Anthony DeFeo responded to the concerns. DeFeo said it's the responsibility of committee chairs to type their minutes and send them to the town for posting. As chair of the Public Safety Committee, DeFeo said he types the minutes after each meeting, submits them to the town and hands them out to fellow committee members.
DeFeo said if the minutes aren't being posted to the website, the town needs to find out where the issue is and do something to make sure the minutes are posted.
"We don't stream these meetings so the minutes are the only way of knowing what's going on in the meeting," DeFeo said. "You have a right to know what's going on in the meeting.
Arbor Day celebration
Council passed a proclamation for the town to jointly celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Day on Friday, May 3.
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