After a lengthy discussion during the city of Nortonville's special called meeting, council members voted to table the consideration and possible approval of a new wholesale sewer contract with the city of White Plains with one council member absent and another abstaining.
The vote to table the consideration came after a motion by Councilwoman Pam Broadston to vote on the contract did not receive a second.
There were only two items on Thursday night's agenda. If the new contract passed, the council would have considered settling ongoing litigation with the municipality.
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Nortonville's city attorney William Cox walked council members through each paragraph of the new contract between the two municipalities. During contract negotiations with White Plains, Cox said there were two factors to consider. First, the cities would enter into a new contract based on measuring the flow by meter reading -- negating their previous deal that had been set up in 1996, which was based on water sales to White Plains.
"That's a good deal for Nortonville because it covers any water that comes into the system," Cox said.
The second part of the agreement called for White Plains to settle their debt with Nortonville. In 2016, Nortonville raised sewer rates from $4.56 per 1,000 gallons to $6.30 per 1,000. After the adage hit nearly $10,000, former-mayor C.T. Sturt authorized Cox to file a suit. While litigation was ongoing, White Plains continued to pay the old rate, and what started as $10,000 ended up at approximately $63,000, according to Cox.
The proposed agreement called for a $50,000 settlement in back fees if the new contract had been approved. Because the contract was tabled, the settlement is on hold.
During Cox's walkthrough, Councilman James Harrison asked questions about items that concerned him in the contract, namely the newly-agreed upon $3.40 per each 1,000 gallons of wastewater received at the Nortonville treatment facility.
"I do not want to burden the citizens of Nortonville who voted for me to be here and to look out for their best interest," said Harrison. "I do not want to burden them with a contract that doesn't work right for them."
Harrison said his concern came from the fact that he didn't believe the council had enough information to make a well-informed decision.
"When's the last time we had a study presented to us on the actual cost of what our wastewater plant is running?" he asked. "We don't have current information to even compare this new rate to. It's an uninformed decision that you're being asked (to vote on) tonight."
The council's only abstaining vote came from Councilwoman Rebecca Mosby, who debated with Harrison that the council should vote in favor of the new contract.
"I'm okay with making sure that we are set up for the future," she said, "If we do not accept a contract, we go back in argument."
To which Harrison responded, "This contract in action will end up giving us less revenue each particular month. And who has to make up for that? This decision is based on whether you're willing to continue subsidizing sewer treatment for someone else -- taking money out of water, taking money out of the general fund, you can do that, or you can make each person pay the rate for sewage treatment cost."
After the tabling, the council dismissed and will have their next regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13 at City Hall.