Danville City Commission welcomes new Parks and Rec director
Published 11:37 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023
By Lance Gaither
During the Danville City Commission meeting on Oct. 9, the new Danville-Boyle County Parks and Rec executive director, Tommy Barton, introduced himself to the commission. Barton has 22 years of experience as a parks and rec director including 11 building Muhlenberg County’s first parks and recreation department. He had toured Millennium Park in 2011 when conducting research for a park being built by his program.
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“I’m excited to be here,” Barton said. “At that point I was aware of Danville and put a check mark by it. I loved downtown and the idea of the city. I’m very excited to be here. It is a big step up for me. I’m feeling good about it and think I can help out. I do feel you have a good thing going and I am glad to be part of it.”
During the public comment on agenda items section of the meeting, Boyle County First District Magistrate Tom Ellis spoke to the commission about issues his constituents in and around Perryville have been having with the new utilities billing system. He said that he has heard many complaints of service shutoffs despite his constituents believing that they had paid their bill. He believes the commission needed to make better communication efforts to educate the public on the new software.
“It’s coming down to communication,” Ellis said. “We have a disproportionate share of elderly in Perryville, a large percentage of single parents. We have both parents working in many cases. The technology has changed and is confusing to people. Many have had their water shut off whether they paid their bill or not.”
Perryville resident Darrel Lyons spoke to the commission about issues with water shutoffs and read from Title 807 Chapter Five Regulation Six Subsection 15 Part 5 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations. The particular section lays out regulation for a utility entity’s termination of a customer’s utilities due to nonpayment of bills. Under the law, water customers must receive a written notice at least five days in advance of a shutoff and that a shutoff can occur no earlier than 20 days from the original unpaid bill.
“I have never signed up for paperless billing, the majority of the city has never signed up for paperless billing,” Lyons said. “For the water department, to without any regard to the customers to decide to switch almost the entire county to paperless billing is an affront to all of us.”
During the second public comment section, Lyons expressed further frustrations with Danville utilities not fixing leaky hydrants, not fulfilling shut off requests, and customers being charged enormous bills from unfixed leaks.
Commissioner and Mayor Pro Tem Jennie Hollon urged those with concerns or utility issues to speak with the city manager to have them rectified. City attorney Stephen Dexter commented that municipal utilities are not subject to regulation cited by Lyons and that Danville Utilities is still meeting the requirements of the law regardless with information provided on the initial bill.
Municipal Utility Director Marshall Carrier delivered a presentation on the new billing software. Carrier explained that there have been several attempts made to inform residents during the last year about the new billing system. The new billing software, InvoiceCloud, doesn’t require customers to sign up, but allows customers to have live views of their accounts and pay their bill from their app. He went on to say that customers can pay their water bill on Danville’s app.
“We essentially wanted to migrate away from the old style of doing things,” Carrier said. “We wanted to innovate and get more customers that can’t come to city hall. We wanted to provide alternative options.”
Customers can pay their bill online, in the app, by phone, text, or at the Perryville and Junction City branches of Farmer’s Bank. City manager Earl Coffey explained many utility companies are removing an in person payment option all together and that the city is attempting to provide customers with as many payment options as possible.
In other news from the meeting, the city has been registered on the National Rural Water Association PFAS Cost Recovery Program. The registration allows to city to receive future compensation from damages caused by the toxic “forever chemicals” called PFAS. The commission noted that Danville’s water supply has not yet tested positive for the chemicals and that this a preemptive move.
According to the EPA, Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS for short, have been used in a variety of consumer products ranging from cookware to clothing. PFAS are a group of nearly 15,000 synthetic chemicals, according to a chemicals database maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Persistent. PFAS remain in the environment for an unknown amount of time. Because there are many types of PFAS chemicals, their effects on people are not fully understood. However, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PFAS were found in 97 percent of people in a 2012 study.