By Leigh Morris
For the Star-Gazette
Ongoing problems with young people driving ATVs on city streets and vacant city property led the Virginia City Council to direct Police Chief Tom Osmer to clamp down on those involved. Osmer plans to first discuss the issue with the parents. However, if the illegal ATV riding persists, Osmer will issue tickets. The chief stressed that it is illegal to operate ATVs and similar vehicles on city streets and city property. Depending on the time of operation, ATV drivers also could be cited for disturbing the peace.
“They (ATVs) need to be out in the country,” said Alderman Rickey Cox (3rd Ward) in expressing the view of the council.
The council approved a measure increasing water rates on usage beyond the monthly minimum of $33 for the first 2,000 gallons. The ordinance, which received approval on a 5-1 vote, raises the rate from $6.50 to $8.00 for every 1,000 gallons of water used each month above the first 2,000. It is anticipated the increase will generate an additional $5,000 in revenue per month. Only Aldermen David Petefish (3rd Ward) opposed the increase.
City Treasurer Kevin Velten previously reported water revenue is running about $8,000 to $10,000 below the budget estimate. He said water usage has fallen approximately 22 percent since 2011. He attributed most of this unexpected drop to conservation actions taken by customers.
Velten estimated that about half of the city’s residential customers use no more than 2,000 gallons of water per month and therefore will not be affected by the rate increase.
A divided council gave final approval to an ordinance that limits grass height to eight inches. Residents also will be given two hours to remove grass and leaves they blow into the street with their mowers.
Alderman Susan Carson (1st Ward), who has advocated voluntary public cooperation on the issue, said, “We won’t be able to be consistent with this. And when you’re not consistent, you lose effectiveness.” Carson also expressed doubts the ordinance can be enforced due to the city’s limited resources.
Aldermen Steve Clark (1st Ward), Dale Bell (2nd Ward) and Cox all voted in favor of the ordinance. Petefish, Carson and Alderman Chris Behrends (2nd Ward) voted against it. Mayor Steve Sudbrink broke the 3-3 tie by supporting the measure.