The bank in Taylor can get busy from time to time, but last week something foul made its way to the bank...sewage. A major sewer clog jettisoned gallons of untreated sewage water after a backup and leak in one of the city’s main sewage pipes presented the city with a major issue.
On Tuesday, Jan. 12, The city of Taylor held its regularly scheduled commission meeting and quickly addressed possible solutions to the sewage issues, before addressing other city business.
“It flooded and backed up into the bank, we had to have both of the pump systems out...it blew a couple fuses inside the control box,” said Mayor Emory Vaagen of the sewage issue.
According to Vaagen, the culprit of the sewage issue was owed in part to wet wipes, also known as baby wipes which had clogged the system and prevented the proper flow of the sewage in the main line. In addition to the wipes, other debris was found to have contributed to the growing dam that spewed into the bank last week.
Commissioner Travis Christensen, vice-president of the commission, inquired into the functionality of the warning lights — a safety measure intended to detect blockages in the main line and notify city personnel of the issue before it becomes a problem. Vaagen confirmed that they did not function as intended during the clog.
Vaagen proposed to the commission the implementation of a filtration system intended to help keep things moving along in the future, and Lisa Aune, auditor of Taylor, suggested placing notice in the Richardton Merchant informing residents not to flush their disposable wipes down the toilet and detailing their impact on the sewage system.
In other city business, an official appointment of Taylor’s new auditor Jeanette Buckman was presented to the commission by Commissioner Daryl Jurgens in Buckman’s favor before being unanimously voted in Buckman’s favor. Buckman will replace Aune, who has served the city for several years.
Jurgens then expressed some concern about the number of dangerous stray dogs that are in violation of city ordinances and roaming Taylor’s streets. Commissioner Melissa Gjermundson agreed that there have been some complaints about dogs at large in various areas of Taylor, noting that was becoming a growing issue.
Aune detailed an incident where a man had been attacked by a stray dog while walking down the street, and Gjermundson said she could hear the commotion from her house nearby.
The commissioners then proposed to amend their animal ordinance by implementing harsher penalties for improper care of a dog. The current penalty in Taylor is a $10 fine for the first infraction followed by $50 for the second. Infractions following that garner residents a $100 fine.
Aune said that the process to amend the penalties would be long and require an attorney, before recommending holding off on the proposal until a later date.
In minor city news, Taylor was denied a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
As part of that grant request Vaagen detailed the city’s position that the need for a sewer pump in the case of a major power outage was critical to public health and safety. Vaagen addressed the denial saying that the city had been without water in the past as a result of power outages, including one severe incident nearly 30 years-ago when a severe snowstorm cripled the power system for an extended period of time.
According to the denial, the past incident was too distant and therefore not considered vital.
Next on the agenda commissioners recapped the financial impact COVID-19 and the government mandates had on Taylor.
According to the commission, Taylor took a serious financial hit after several parties canceled reservations for the newly-renovated opera house — a significant financial contributor to the city.
The yearly operating costs, according to Aune, remain unknown at present.
The commission proposed that moving forward the rate for renting the opera house should vary depending on the event and the size of the party. Currently, the rate is $150, plus a $300 deposit to cover potential cleaning costs. The commission voted to table further discussion regarding the opera house until their next meeting in February.
Lastly, commissioners reviewed financial statements.
According to the commission, residents can expect higher water bills in the coming months as they approved a hike in rates to $0.50 per 500 gallons to meet the rising costs from the Southwest Water Authority.