Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 7, 2000

DFA delinquent on city utility bills

By Jane Otto

Winsted residents will soon pay almost 30 percent more on utility bills due to lack of activity at the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) plant, but ironically, DFA has not paid a utility bill since April.

City Clerk Betty Zachmann told the Winsted City Council that DFA is delinquent in payment for the months of April, May, June and soon, July to the tune of almost $100,000. The building has been occupied by DairiConcepts, a DFA spin-off company, since May 18.

"Turn off the water," said council member Gary Lenz. "If a home owner doesn't pay, we turn off their water."

Zachmann pointed out that the building has its own well, but city water is used to flush the toilets. She also said the staff there has shrunk to just two employees. Shutting off the water, she said, might not have the needed impact.

City attorney Fran Eggert agreed.

"That won't get the bills paid," said Eggert. "We should pursue all legal remedies."

Zachmann said she had notified the company by letter that the account is in arrears, but the city has got "to get teeth behind this."

Discussion bounced back and forth as to various measures the city could take to prompt DFA to pay the delinquent bill.

"They should be treated the same as everyone else. Let's follow the proper procedure to shut off their water," Lenz said.

The council agreed to see what response, if any, Zachmann's recent letter to DFA will bring. Then after notification, the water will be shut off and the matter pursued legally.

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