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Water issues cloud city elections in Caruthersville

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Water bill issues will be front and center at a special Caruthersville, MO City Council meeting on Feb. 10 as two candidates fate for being named on the ballot hangs in the wings and many citizens are finding out they are on a “bad debt list.” The candidates, one for Mayor and one for City Council were notified by the city attorney, after the deadline for ballot certification, that they owed outstanding water bills and their names could not be included on the ballot for the municipal election scheduled for Apr. 8.

Mayoral candidate Rick Brandon and City Council Candidate Barbara Rodgers were both informed that their names would not be listed on the ballot because of bad water debts. Both candidates were unaware and were not made aware of the situation prior to the filing deadline. Rodgers is an incumbent Councilwoman already and was unopposed. Brandon is opposed by Rick Davis and Marshall Grubbs, The city has been without a mayor since last year when Mayor Diane Sayre passed away and the Council gridlocked on appointing a mayor.

The candidates are not all that are affected by this situation and the Caruthersville Water Department is no stranger to controversy over that several years. Sources say the list dates back to 2007, and this reporter just found out that her husband and she were listed with less than a 10 dollar debt. This reporter has not lived in the city for over three years, nor ever received a bill in the mail.

Other persons finding out on the list are confirming that they, too, were unaware of any debts. Some still have water service. Others are being cited for “temporary” meters such as landlords use and verify that the fees were paid in full.

In 2008 a water clerk was charged with a theft over 25,000 and received a suspended imposition of sentence and five years of supervised probation and ordered to pay back over $23,000. The city has also changed hardware and software systems several times during 2007 to present.

The City Council has called a special meeting for Monday, Feb. 10 at five o’clock to discuss the situation of the candidates on the ballot. A copy of the list has been circulated by a councilman, but was unavailable as of press time. The meeting will be open to the public.

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