Council forgives penalty

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County commissioners Monday forgave 90 percent of a $7,500 penalty for delinquent payments to the county-owned Blue Township Sewer District.

The commission reached the agreement with James Valerius, who contested the penalty and threatened to file suit against the county if it tried to collect the full penalty.

Valerius said the delinquencies were actually those of his son, the previous tenant of the residence, and he hadn’t realized the property “was in arrears” with the county.

County Counselor John Watt told the commission that delinquent sewer charges are ultimately a lien against the real estate, even if a tenant signs up for the sewer service.

“It (the penalty) will hit the fan when the real estate is eventually sold,” Watt said. “Do you deal with it today or do you deal with it down the road. Those are your options.”

Preferring not to maintain a lien against the property, commissioners offered to settle the matter by accepting 10 percent of the penalty ($750), minus $100 previously paid by Valerius.

“I think the county should get 10 percent of the penalty because we’ve put so much time into it,” said Commissioner Stan Hartwich.

“I understand the difficulty you’ve had with this,” he told Valerius, “but I hope you understand the difficulty we’ve had.”

Valerius agreed to the settlement.

In other business Monday:

• Buck Driggs of SMH Consultants gave commissioners a weekly update on the new Pott County Justice Center, under construction north of the courthouse at Westmoreland.

“Things are going pretty well,” Driggs said. “It’s pretty much concrete and plumbers right now, and geothermal.”

Driggs said drilling of wells for the geothermal heating and cooling system is not proceeding as rapidly as anticipated.

Drilling began last week, and although he expected the completion of two wells per day, drillers were working on the third well as of Monday.

Commissioners also expressed a concern about water runoff from the construction site in the event of a heavy rain, and asked Driggs to investigate a means of containing runoff.

• The commissioner asked Robert Reece, county administrator, to look into an accessibility issue at the rear of the courthouse.

A trench from the courthouse to the justice center construction site was refilled with gravel, making it impossible for a person in a wheelchair to cross, according to Commission Chairman Gary Yenzer, who had been questioned about the situation.

• The commissioner heard the annual audit report from the accounting firm of Reese & Novelly.

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