WINONA – Mayor Jerry Flower warned customers of the Winona Public Utilities that the city does not contract with third-party payment website to collect payments for water and garbage service.
Flowers said he received a call from the daughter of a customer who lived out of town. She said she Googled bill pay for Winona Public Utilities and pulled up a website that appeared to be for the City of Winona. However, the site is connected in no way to the City of Winona.
“The City of Winona does not have online bill pay,” Flowers said.
According to Chief of Police Tommy Bibbs, who is investigating the matter, the site states that the City of Winona has been active with it since 2011. He said further research stated that the City of Nashville and Brown County, Indiana, tried to get the site to legally desist in collecting utility payments on their behalf, however, their efforts failed.
“I have contacted the Public Service Commission, the FBI, and the Attorney General’s office,” Bibbs said. “I want to make sure the city isn’t losing money or the taxpayers aren’t losing money.”
Flowers said the payment made through the website still has not been received at the City of Winona, but the website does say it takes several days for the payment to process.
In other city business:
• The city accepted bids for a proposed elevated water tank project. Chris Pope with North Central Planning and Development District stated that as soon as the bid was accepted he would submit an application to the Appalachian Regional Authority for a portion of the funds needed for the project. If that grant is not accepted, the city will use a low-interest CAP loan to fund its portion of the project.
• The board approved the purchase of an asphalt plainer from Winona Tractor for $12,200, the lowest of two quotes.
• Winona Recreational Park youth soccer and football signups will go through Friday afternoon at Winona City Hall.
• The board voted to begin condemnation proceedings on 200 Baron Street.
• Fred Fullilove informed the board that he planned to hire a crew to clean up litter around the city. He stated that he was not asking anything from the city, and that he would pay the members of his crew out of his own pocket.
“I don’t want anything from the city,” Fullilove said. “I’m going to take care of these guys. It’s kind of like giving back to the city.”
Fullilove said he would begin September 20 at the corner of Applegate and Summit Streets.