FILLMORE -- Even with no real new business to address with beginning 2021, it recently became suggestive that some Fillmore residents believe town leaders are not being transparent.

A few of them let their thoughts be known during the Fillmore Town Council’s regular meeting last Thursday evening. Though some exchanges were tense, the overarching concern became how to better involve the town as a whole.

Resident Stacy Vandiver first stated that there had been a “firestorm” on social media regarding recent actions taken by the council. Those include the town’s newly raised water rates and how the town could use money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The bigger issue behind it all, Vandiver said, was there being an “us vs. them” between residents and the council itself. With it being noted that not everyone in Fillmore has the Banner Graphic, the feeling has become that residents have been kept in the dark.

At one point, Vandiver became frustrated with the council for not giving what he considered specific details about these decisions. He also claimed that the town had not properly notified the community of such meetings.

Meanwhile, resident Doris Ratcliff shared a similar frustration to Vandiver’s with regard to the new water rates. The underlying issue here, though, was Fillmore purchasing its water from Greencastle.

Town Attorney Jeff Boggess responded that Vandiver was asking leading questions about the council responding during public comments. He added that the council was not obligated to do so, but was doing so to help.

As to Ratcliff’s complaint about the town’s new sewer rates, Boggess defended them in general, in that doing so meant that the town did not have to default on water loans.

Clerk-Treasurer Jayna Haldeman also responded that the problem with water bills was not that some residents cannot pay, but rather that they will not pay.

Vandiver suggested that the town consider something like a newsletter, which could be included in residents’ monthly bills. This, he suggested, could greatly improve communication between them and the council.

Toward the end of the meeting, former Council President Wes Terhune provided that the council was not solely to blame for Fillmore’s perceived stagnation.

Instead, he said, it was contingent on residents to take an interest in the town’s affairs. In essence, they should come to the monthly council meetings.
© 2021 Greencastle Banner-Graphic