Left to right, Steve Smith, Bill Boggs and Tony Starkey. â€” Post & Mail photos / Phil Smith
SOUTH WHITLEY â€” The leadership of South Whitley is making no bones about the need for improvement in the town â€” and the reasons the town is in its current shape.
â€śThis is cleaning up a lot of stuff that has occurred for a lot of years,â€ť said South Whitley Town Council President Tony Starkey at Tuesday nightâ€™s regular meeting.
The board heard complaints from residents regarding fluctuating utility bills, which board members Starkey, Steve Smith and Bill Boggs all agree was a result of what they call an ill-advised contract entered into with Duke Energy.
South Whitleyâ€™s town board, as well as the townâ€™s clerk-treasurer, are all fresh faces after a dramatic 2011 caucus and fall election in which one council member declined to run for re-election (John Dunn) and the other two (Tonya Warner and Joan Eberhart) were defeated.
Bob Gould defeated longtime clerk-treasurer Mitch Winger.
At Tuesday nightâ€™s meeting, Starkey said he had opposed a contract with Duke Energy, but that the previous council signed a 10-year contract anyway.
â€śPeople are coming in every week complaining about their utility bills,â€ť said Starkey. â€śNot addressing it is not an option. Duke Energy doesnâ€™t have a great history of playing by the rules. Weâ€™re trying to find a way to unwind it (the contract).â€ť
The board unanimously voted to approve Umbaugh & Associates to conduct a rate study to look into the townâ€™s water, sewage and electric utilities.
The board, in concert with the townâ€™s planning commission, has been looking into dramatic changes those in power say are necessary for the town to overcome years of alleged mismanagement.
Tops on the list â€” a comprehensive plan. Members of the town council and plan commission have been consulted by Lori Shipman, economic development consultant researching the initial steps required to draw up the townâ€™s road map to recovery.