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Bethel applies for water grant

Bethel Springs has applied for a $500,000 water grant, Mayor Kay Cox told the meeting of the Bethel Springs Board of Aldermen July 11.

The grant is a Community Development Block Grant Water Grant and requires no match, City Recorder Erin Pickle said after the meeting.

“Our water system is old. We have not had the money to do anything to the lines,” Cox said.

She explained that the town couldn’t apply for a water, fire or another sewer grant, until the previous sewer grant was closed.

“That’s why we have such sorry water. For 10 or 12 years, we couldn’t apply for a grant because the sewer grant wasn’t closed. We have closed the sewer grant and we have applied for a water grant. We have got to start working on this water system. It’s terrible,” she said.

One of the things Cox hopes to spend the grant on is new water meters.

“The meters are old and every one needs to be replaced, but you can’t replace them  if you don’t have any money. I would replace all of the meters,” Cox said.

The Mayor said she hoped to know whether the city got the grant or not by October.

Cox again answered questions from the audience about water and sewer issues. She said the water system was running a deficit when she was in office prior to 2006.

“I was scared to death every month they were going to come in and audit us and raise our rates, but they didn’t and they finally caught up with us,” she said.

Cox said the only water and sewer aid she had found for the elderly was Jesus Cares, and the Southwest Human Resources Agency offers aid for the elderly in the winter.

She also said that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had agreed to discuss forgiving an $850,000 loan that went to finance the sewer.

Cox said that if the town could reduce water loss, they might get auditors to come in again, and they might allow Bethel to reduce water rates in a year or two.

City Clerk Deborah Sullivan reported a water loss of 13 percent over the previous month.

Cox said that she wants to get someone from the state comptroller’s office to come to the next meeting to explain why rates were raised. 

She said any water or sewer bill that is not paid will be referred to an attorney.

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