First of all, I would like to apologize to any citizens and / or interested parties who might be reading this for its late posting. I was out of town this week and tried to post this last Saturday night. That is when my computer monitor bit the dust. As you can see, I am up and running now.
I have scanned three of the ordinances that the Board of Aldermen passed last Friday. To view them in their actual size, just click on the pictures above.
The first ordinance is for the increase in trash pick up fees. I did not want to vote for this, but I was informed that the trash service was put up for bid this year and the only company to bid on it was our current provider CWI the only choice I had was to either vote for the increase or to let the contract expire and have our City without trash service. Unfortunately this means that current residential rates will increase from $10.60 per month to $12.60 cents per month.
Commercial service will increase to $23.00 per month. Commercial dumpster prices will increase 10% across the board.
I was able to postpone the Water/Sewer rate increase however if you click on the picture you will see that the City of Marble Hill wants to raise the current water rates from $12.60 per month to $15.00 per month for 0-2500 gallons used and will increase from .25 cents to .37 cents for every additional 100 gallons used.
On August 16,2008 I posted here on the Alderman Lacy Blog that the City of Marble Hill was planning on doubling the water rates stating:
“Whereareas the Board of Aldermen of the City of Marble Hill, Missouri, have received a rate study for water and wastewater to determine what needs to be charged to the City of Marble Hill’s customers in order for the respective departments to maintain a steady balance in the accounts. Over the years the water and wastewater ledgers have been decreasing and the City of Marble Hill needs to make certain that these accounts have the proper funding in place to operate, maintain and make improvements to the systems”
According to the study conducted by Smith and Company Engineers of Cape Girardeau Missouri , which recommends that the base water fee of 2500 gallons be raised from $9.18 to $16.75.
Smith and Company also recommends that the base waste water fee of 2500 gallons be raised from $9.09 to $18.50.”
If the City gets their $15.00 per 2500 gallons rate that they are seeking they will be just $1.75 short of their goal set last year. What do you think this means for you , the residents next year at this time? I predict it will go up another $1.75 per 2500 gallons.
Incidentally, if you clicked on the picture of the proposed water/sewer rate increase you will see that the City of Marble Hill, did , infact, double your sewer rates last year and what is the result?
They now have their $18.50 monthly sewer fee and they now want to increase it to $19.75 cents.
Where does this stop? When do we the Citizens stop paying increased water and sewer rates?
The Wednesday June 17, 2009 edition of the Banner Press newspaper covered the Water / Sewage fee increase debate on page 2 “Water, sewer and trash rates to go up” quoted me as saying:
“You know I will be against a water increase”
The Banner Press continued by covering the debate as follows:
“Lacy said as he has said before, that he wants the city to explore the possibility of applying for grants to pay for water and sewer repairs and maintenance. McCain reminded him that before grants are considered, the city would have to prove that it is billing its customers adequately. Lacy countered that last year the city raised rates but did not apply for any grant money”
Assistant administrator Shrum , and again I am quoting the Banner Press, stated:
“Since the last raise we replaced $27,000 worth of airator motors we have to have – counting electric lines, motors and cables—and spent $5000.00 on a control panel pump…the city has spent on problems with the well after lightening struck the pump-which should be covered by insurance. He said the city spent nearly $15,000 on a situation at Glenn St, and has set aside money to bring back the elevated tower into service. All that takes money.”
Yes it does take money, but I still contend that the City has not applied for grants to replace the most deteriorated water and sewer lines. At the June 12, 2009 meeting we (the Board) authorized the purchase of a 4 wheel drive back hoe from Eddie Cook for the amount of $26,000.00. Why? Because the old one is worn out.
Why is the old one worn out? Because of the constant wear and tear of having to fix dilapidated water and sewer lines.
I would like to add however; that the Bank of Missouri, gave the City an excellent rate of interest on the loan for the forklift (4% APR) which is even better than what the USDA offered which was (4.5% APR).
In addition, and this is something that the Banner Press missed , according to my notes taken during the Friday June 12, 2009 meeting, Assistant administrator Shrum stated that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is concerned about “Inflow and Infiltration” of the City’s sewer system. City Clerk Carla Watt informed me during the meeting that several years ago the DNR conducted smoke tests on the City’s sewer system in the Lutesville side ( old Lutesville is Ward I) and that during this test so much smoke came from the sewers that the DNR stopped the test.
Folks, this problem is only going to get worst unless we start replacing lines, starting with the worst , first. It is my concern that the poor and the elderly can not afford any more increase of water and sewage rates therefore all resources to help get government funding and help keep rates low must be exhausted before further discussion of raising rates take place.
On February 4, 2009 I received an email from U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s office stating:
“WASHINGTON, D.C.– Today, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond from Missouri and Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall from New Mexico filed an amendment to the economic recovery package that will make it easier for states to administer the funds allocated to the State Revolving Funds (SRF). The amendment would provide the states with the flexibility to choose to provide grants to municipalities for their water, waste water or drinking water projects. ”
I forwarded this email to the Mayor who in turn forwarded it to Assistant Administrator Shrum. To my knowledge it was not acted upon.
I received another letter from Sen. McCaskill’s office on June 5th, 2009 stating that a free grant-writing seminar was going to take place at Southeast Missouri State University on June 27, 2009. Assistant administrator Shrum agreed to attend.
There is going to be a Public Hearing on Wednesday, July 1′st about the annexation of the Blevin property (at their request), I do not know if the water and sewer rates will be discussed then, I would guess probably not, but I would encourage everyone to go to City Hall and look at the agenda (which will be taped on the dry erase board across from the collector’s office).
If it is not discussed on Wednesday July 1′st then it will most assuredly be discussed at the next regularly scheduled Board meeting on Monday, July 13, 2009 @ 6:00 pm at City Hall , I would encourage you to notify your friends and neighbors about this important issue please ask them to attend the meeting.
In other news I did vote to increase the fee for special uses of the City Parks from $10.00 to $20.00, the parks are getting in pretty poor shape and I thought we needed the funding. That being said, I am expecting results from the City in the restoration of the parks.
On that note, I talked to Assistant administrator Shrum today and he informed me that he too was out of town and that the maintenance department did not fill the pool while he was gone. Apparently there was a miscommunication . Mr. Shrum said that he will start filling the pool tomorrow; hopefully it will be ready to go by next week.
The City also renewed liquor licenses for Amerimart, Ross’s BP, the Bollinger County Eagles and Hillbilly’s. Pool table licenses were issued for the Bollinger County Eagles and Hillbilly’s.
I do have a bit of good news, as of July 12, 2009 the Board of Aldermen approved their resolution (previously approved by voice vote during the April meeting ) in writing to prohibit the profiling of citizens by the police on the basis of known political affiliation. So feel free to exercise your God Given right to Free Speech!
As promised, I finally was able to arrange a meeting with a MoDoT official on the speed limit on Highway 34 West and he informed the Board that traffic accidents remained low and that drivers have slowed down in that area, though they are most often driving 45 mph instead of the marked 35 mph. I also found out that the 35 mph speed zone had only been extended by 3/10 of a mile, this, combined with the fact that MoDoT does not like to have several speed zones in one area , prompted the Board not to act on changing it again.
I did take the opportunity to express to the MoDoT official that the City of Marble Hill needs help with the intersection of Hwy’s 34 West and 51 South, and to state that the City needs highway 34 repaved through town, making it a point to note that the citizens of Marble Hill pay state taxes too.
In new business, Ward II Alderman James Sear noted concerns from a local citizen in regards to the scheduling conflict between the Bollinger County Soccer League and the Bollinger County Fair. It was the suggestion of Mayor Masterson to let the two parties work out the problem themselves.
Alderman Sear expressed concern about the need for Haz-Mat fire proof cabinets in the City Maintenance shed to protect flammable liquids.
Alderman Sear stated that citizens were wondering about dust control for the ball park, a service previously provided by MoDoT but has since been contracted out. Alderman Sear stated that he would try to find out who MoDoT is now using to resolve the issue.
I then read a letter from a concerned citizen regarding the condition of the ball fields and the bathrooms on the fields. Assistant administrator Shrum stated that the Optimist Club takes care of the ball fields and is planning on bringing in additional dirt and has also purchased a DR Grader that will help in properly leveling the field.
Last but not least I brought up my proposal for an “Adopt a Block” program. I had originally thought about an “Adopt a Street” program, but when I mentioned it to Mayor Masterson he liked it so much he said, “Why don’t we call it “Adopt a Block”.
“Adopt a Block” sounded better so that’s what I went with. The jest of the idea is to model a program similar to what MoDoT does with its “Adopt a Highway” program.
A group of citizens, a church , a business or an organization could adopt a street or a whole block to help clean up the town, in return the City would provide a sign with the citizen’s , church, business or organizations’ name on it. This would provide some free advertising in return for their volunteerism.
I still have to run it by the City Attorney to make sure it meets his approval but the Board members seemed to like the idea. Let’s hope we can make it work.
Alderman Clint E. Lacy
Ward I, Marble Hill