COLUMBUS - The Columbus City Council discovered recently several entities were receiving water from the city for free.

These included the Methodist Church, which apparently had been getting free water for its sprinkler system since about 2000, the Cherokee County Law Enforcement Center, the baseball/softball complex, Girl Scout House, the American Legion Fair Ground, Rodeo Grounds and the 4-H building as well as several others including most county buildings.

No one seemed to be able to figure out why the United Methodist Church had not been charged for water, but the bill would have come to $2,816.

The water and sewer committee recommended charging the Methodist Church half that and to begin billing for water starting in August. The motion failed 3-7.

The committee then recommended continuing to provide free water to the law enforcement center, the ball fields, the Girl Scout House, the Legion Fair Grounds, the rodeo grounds and 4-H building. That motion also died 3-7. As things currently stand these entities will be charged for water starting in September.

The committee then recommended beginning to charge the county yard, the Cherokee County Courthouse, Cherokee County Extension Office and the Cherokee County Health Department for water starting with the September billing. After much discussion in which it was pointed out the county helps the city on several things including free dispatching services, hauling asphalt and several other things without charge, the motion died 2-8. These buildings will continue to get free water unless there is a change at the next council meeting.

City Clerk Janice Blancett said Wednesday all the water issues were referred back to committee and there will likely be another recommendation at the Sept. 19 meeting.

Councilman Grant Speith later moved to begin charging the church for water on the September billing. That motion passed 10-0.

Councilman Steve Dunlap moved to charge the Methodist Church 25 percent of the back bill and for the city to absorb the other 75 percent, saying he believed the city was more at fault than the church for the bill. That motion failed 4-6.

The council also heard from Richard Thompson, who had brought in three trailer houses to a property at 1106 Buckeye. Apparently the tongue of one of the trailers is over a city easement and a neighbor objected to the third trailer. Thompson said there is a near-by privacy fence which extends 16 feet on to a city easement and was simply asking for equal treatment.

For the council, the larger issue was the trailers had been sitting on the lot for over two years and were, according to both Dunlap and Councilman Rodney Oels, uninhabitable.

Thompson disagreed that the trailers were uninhabitable, and said he intended to rent out the trailers as soon as he could complete repairs and get them hooked to power and sewer.

Police Chief Chuck Sharp said that while there is currently no ordinance preventing trailer houses from being moved into the city, but said the trailers did meet the standard to be condemned. The matter was referred to a committee meeting Monday night, which Thompson agreed to attend.

In other business, the council moved to hire Diehl, Banwart and Bolton as city auditors again this year.

The council will next meet 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the council chambers.