SOUTH WHITLEY — The leadership of South Whitley is making no bones about the need for improvement in the town — and the reasons the town is in its current shape.
“This is cleaning up a lot of stuff that has occurred for a lot of years,” said South Whitley Town Council President Tony Starkey at Tuesday night’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 Whitley’s town board, as well as the town’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 night’s meeting, Starkey said he had opposed a contract with Duke Energy, but that the previous council signed a 10-year contract anyway.
“People are coming in every week complaining about their utility bills,” said Starkey. “Not addressing it is not an option. Duke Energy doesn’t have a great history of playing by the rules. We’re trying to find a way to unwind it (the contract).”
The board unanimously voted to approve Umbaugh & Associates to conduct a rate study to look into the town’s water, sewage and electric utilities.
The board, in concert with the town’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 — 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 town’s road map to recovery.