ITALY - The Italy City Council raised water and sewer fees at its meeting Monday night.

Water superintendent Mark Souder Jr. made the presentation that will increase water rate minimums $1.50 per month and sewer rates an additional $1.50 per month. Souder said the increases would be reflected on the November bills.

The council also moved the disconnect date from the 24th to the 25th day of the month.

A public hearing was held relating to the fiscal year 2007-2008 ad valorem tax rate and proposed general operating and water/sewer operating fund budgets for the city. The council decided to adopt these items at a called meeting set for Sept. 24.

During citizens’ comments, Joan Garbowski asked why there were so many problems with cable service in Italy. She said she didn’t have cable service but said she knew people who did have problems.

Garbowski also asked why some department heads received a 5 to 6 percent performance pay increase in July and then all employees received a 3 percent cost of living increase in October. She said some employees received as much as an 8 or 9 percent pay increase.

She also questioned why she, as a taxpayer, was paying for bottled water for city employees to drink and asked why the employees couldn’t drink city water?

Johnny Worley, representing Texas Best Smokehouse, said he was in attendance at the meeting out of a desire to be a part of the community and that the business joined the Chamber of Commerce last week.

In other comments, Worley said there was a brick wall in the back of the Sonic dining room and that they wanted to make that a wall of history with information about the city, Worley said he was seeking input from the council about information to place there.

During department reports, Don Chambers said he attended a Code Red Emergency Notification System meeting with the county Monday morning. He said this is a Web-based calling system associated with 9-1-1.

Chambers said the city could possibly work in conjunction with the city of Milford as well as the two school districts to pay the $5,000 annual cost for the system.

Code Red is a fast communication service available for mass emergency notifications.

The service employs Internet-mapping capability for geographic targeting of calls, coupled with a high-speed telephone calling system capable of delivering customized pre-recorded emergency messages directly to homes and businesses, live individuals and answering machines, at the rate of up to 60,000 calls per hour.

Code Red subscribers control their emergency broadcasts from anywhere in the world via a secure Internet portal and offers an “unprecedented level of security, robustness, performance, and ease-of-use for government agencies, communities and businesses,” according to the information provided.

The system could make phone calls to all residents within the city within minutes in the event of weather emergencies, water outages and other situations, he said, indicating a specific area could be targeted to contact affected residents within minutes.

Council members said they would like to hear more about Code Red and asked Chambers to get more information together or a representative at a meeting.

In other business, Chambers and Souder presented a slide presentation of the progress on the sewer project.

Souder said phase I is about six weeks from completion and phase II is getting under way. He indicated that phases III and IV would be out for bid within the next week. He said the city would go out for bids next month for the well project.

City Secretary Cynthia Olguin said the city had received 39 applications for police chief. She said a panel of four residents and three officers from surrounding agencies would narrow the field of applicants for the council.

Acting Police Chief Bill Scott said officers are covering the shifts and noted no major incidents during the past few weeks.

Council member Rodney Guthrie was not present at the meeting.

The next public hearing regarding the 2007-2008 budget is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17.