CHENOA — The Chenoa City Council sought to crack down on what Mayor Chris Wilder and commissioners alleged to be abusers of its public utility of water, a naturally occurring, abundant resource, at its meeting Monday night.

    After a discussion that involved credit checks, tighter windows on when faucets got shut off and the potential necessity of a down payment for Mother Nature's boon, the city opted to set the city attorney to work an ordinance repealing payment plans for the utility.

    The matter was brought to the council’s attention by Water and Sewer Commissioner Don Schultheis, who said that the previous attempt to setup a payment plan for local tenants behind on water bills had not gone as well as the city had envisioned.

    “This started with the best intentions of getting these people caught up (on water bills),” he said. “Well, this is starting to be their way of life now. There’s some people that have broke their payment plan, we have to chase after others, we have to send them texts, knock on their door to makes these payments and all that. They’re not making them on time, they’re making late payments and they’re trying to set their rates they pay. They just want it to be a way of life. We tried to help them, but I think it’s time to end. We’re not a bank.”

    Wilder agreed that the payment plans needed to be eradicated as soon as possible, adding that the council could consider the creation of a deposit for water services in the vein of larger urban centers.

    “If we at least have something on our file and in our bank account that when they move out, after their final bill has been paid, we then put it on our bills to send them a check for the deposit and they get their money back,” he said. “They already have a $75 turn-on fee the first time. That doesn’t seem to phase people because they get it turned on and then they’ll just not pay it.

    “There’s large cities that do it all the time, and when a water bill reaches a certain amount, they get a three-day notice via phone call or letter that they need to pay their current balance or they’re getting their water shut off. I’m not saying we need to go that far, but I just want a deposit so that they are somewhat bound so that when we do shut them off, we won’t have to involve (City Attorney Steve Mann), we hope.”

    Streets and Alleys Commissioner Dwayne Price opined that they explore doing a credit check on those who wished to take advantage of water, a resource essential to life.

    “Let’s say someone had a list of all these delinquencies — there ain’t no way we’re going to turn your water on,” he said.

    Mann advised that the city not pursue such an avenue. Instead, once it was learned that the majority of the issues had come from rental properties, the city attorney suggested greater scrutiny be put on the renters to pay the water bills. He said that he would work on an ordinance repealing the payment plan, effective by July 1.

    State Rep. Dan Brady was on hand at Monday’s meeting to help the city honor Drew and Brandon Hoselton for becoming state high school wrestling champions in the weight classes of 170 and 195 pounds, respectively. The brothers, who were raised in Chenoa, were present as well, and were feted with highway signage that would be erected to honor their achievements.