February 9th, 2009 Board of Aldermen Meeting

Notes from Marble Hill Board of Aldermen meeting held February 9th, 2009: Apologies for not posting my meeting earlier this week, I turned them over to the Banner Press Newspaper so that they could utilize the departmental reports before publication of Wednesday’s edition.

For those of you who have read the article in the Banner Press this might come as “old news”, for those who haven’t, I hope you find it interesting and informative.

The meeting commenced at 6:00 pm with Ward II Alderman Jim Sear acting as Mayor pro-tem, due to the absence of Mayor Russell Masterson who was ill. Also attending were myself and Ward I Alderman Tim McCain. Ward II Alderman Joel Southwick was absent.

Also in attendance were Marylin Neville, Sharon Sear representing the Bollinger County Stray and Rescue Project, Melonie Coy who has worked with both the Bollinger County Stray and Rescue Project and the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, Requi Salter, representing the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, City Attorney Stephen Gray, Chief of Police Dennis Willis, Fire Chief Jim Bollinger Fire Department Captain Calvin Troxel, Paula Bridges representing the Bollinger County Recycling Project and Chuck Kernan of the City Maintenance Department.

The media was represented by The Banner Press and The North Stoddard Countian newspapers.

The Board approved the minutes for the January meeting and authorized the City expenditures.

Next Marilyn Neville of the Bollinger County Stray and Rescue project , addressed the Board regarding a proposal I had submitted during the January meeting, to enter into a contract with the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri (at a cost of $1,200 per year) to take the City’s stray and unwanted animals.

The following is the presentation that was given by Mrs. Neville to the Board:

 

City of Marble Hill Shelter / Pound Proposal

According to the past meeting of the City of Marble Hill and the Banner Press report, the City is considering changing the current system to manage the dogs found at large in the City limits

The dogs that would be affected by a change in policy include rural Bollinger County dogs as well as dogs from the City limits because rural dogs stray into city limits. Several rural dogs have been impounded since the pound re-opened.

The city is considering taking impounded dogs weekly to the Humane Society of SEMissouri, located in rural area of Cape Girardeau, Missouri for a fee of over $1200.00 annually.

I and others in the community believe this contract plan with the Humane Society is unfair to the dog owners and dogs for several reasons:

1) Unless the city purchases a digital camera to take quality photos of impounded dogs, the present system will not allow owners to know if impounded dogs are theirs, especially if taken to Cape Girardeau

a) This process takes time of city employee to take photos and of another to process in the computer.

b)Written descriptions are very inaccurate for age and breed type.

2) Few city or county residents can afford the gas and Cape Shelter fee.

a) The current system at the Cape shelter is: the dog is held for 5 days before it is placed for adoption or euthanized to make froom for other incoming dogs. IF the dog has a microchip or ID tag, which most BC dogs do not, the dog is held for 10 days and then put up for adoption or euthanized.

b) The current fees are: $30 which includes a microchip and $10 per day. for fee for board.

c) Current fees are $25 impound fee and many residents have a hard time paying that fee, plus the other requirements.

d) People can not get off work at noon or a convenient time to make the open time for the Cape Shelter.

3) Sending the dogs to Cape Girardeau does not give the paper time to list impounded dogs. This is how some people can find their lost pet.

a) Pound dogs are given priority to publish in the weekly paper as PET OF THE WEEK

4) Rules can be set by the city for volunteers to work with the dogs without city employees present by having the volunteers sign a waiver. No waiver has been offered as an alternative. This waiver can include that no person under a certain age be allowed on the pound grounds without a city employee present.

5) A dollar amount can not be determined by the Bollinger County stray Project volunteers as to the city’s real present costs nad the proposed cost savings by voting in the proposed ordinance to work through the Humane Society of SEMissouri.

a) cost to drive to Cape- man hours and gas, vehicle wear and tear.

6) The Humane Society of Missouri is not public friendly.

a) They have a history of having dogs in their care that are not matched to the owners, even if they have ID tags on their collars.

b) They complain of being short staffed and use this reason when they make mistake and this is likely a reasonable explanation.

c) They are not flexible. Ask me about this weekend…

d) They are not forthright about what happens to the dogs in their care.

Sharon Sear, wife of Alderman Jim Sear, who is involved in the Bollinger County Stray and Rescue group, asked me why the board was “kicking their teeth in” to which I responded that when the Board agreed to cooperate with the Bollinger County Stray and Rescue project, we were hopeful that the Bollinger County Board of Commissioners would cooperate with the City on setting up an animal shelter, but since that time Mayor Masterson has spoke to the Bollinger County Board of Commisioners, and that they were not interested in a joint City/ County dog pound.

This is what prompted me to contact the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri. I felt it would help the City and ensure the humane treatment of any stray / unwanted animals picked up in the City.

The only stipulation that the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri made was that we adopted the following language into our existing ordinance:

Any animal found within the city running at large, not tied or led by a line or leash, contrary to the provisions of this article, shall be taken up and impounded in a suitable place, as designated by the city. The animal shall be impounded for five (5) days and will be micro chipped for identification prior to final release. The animal may be claimed at any time by the owner by paying the cost of micro chipping and the cost of impounding and feeding the animal. If the owner, or some person for him, does not claim the animal within the five (5) days after it is impounded, ownership of the animal shall transfer to the impoundment facility and the animal may be placed for adoption or euthanized. If any animal is impounded more than once due to violations of this chapter, such animal will not be finally released from the second impoundment unless the animal has been spayed or neutered. If the owner can not provide written confirmation by a licensed veterinarian that the animal has been previously spayed or neutered, the impoundment facility will have custody of the animal. The owner of the animal shall be required to pay the costs of the sterilization of the animal prior to the animal’s release.

A written correspondence from Humane Society of Southeast Missouri executive director Cheryl Dillion to me states:

We do not charge for the microchip that is implanted the first time an animal comes in. When we tell the owner it is free, it kind of takes some of the sting away. When they claim the animal they sign a Return to Owner form that states the next time the animal comes in it will be spay or neutered before being released to them.

Mrs. Neville stated that she currently provides dog food for the Marble Hill Dog Pound, but stated that these donations would stop if the City enters into a contract with the Humane Society.

Requi Salter who was at the meeting as a representative of the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri countered by stating that the City would benefit from entering into a contract with the Humane Society.

A vote was taken to establish whether or not the City should establish an ad hoc committee that would study the possibility of getting grants to help build an animal shelter for the surrounding area, with Alderman McCain and Alderman Sear voting for the measure, and myself voting “no”.

I then asked City Attorney Stephen Gray if Sear’s participation in the vote constituted a conflict of interest, given the fact that both Alderman Sear and his wife Sharon were involved in the project.

Alderman Sear then asked if I wanted him to rescind his vote. I replied by stating that I just wanted to make sure we were going about things in the right manner. Alderman Sear then asked again if I wanted him to rescind his vote, and I replied by stating that yes I would like him to.

Alderman Sear rescinded his vote, but the whole matter turned out to be one of principle as there were not enough members present to constitute a majority of the Board.

Mrs. Neville asked me if I could provide her with a copy of the information I had obtained from the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, which I was happy to do for her as well as others who made the same request.

I also sent a copy of Mrs. Neville’s presentation to the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri so that all parties could be “in the loop” so to speak on this subject.

The measure was tabled for a later date (which I will post information about at the end of this article).

Chuck Kernan with the City Maintenance Department approached the Board and asked to be relieved of his duties as City Dog Catcher, a job that he has been conducting in addition to his maintenance duties.

In other news the Board of Alderman voted to participate in this year’s Show Me Green tax holiday which will run from April 19th-25th of this year and allows consumers to purchase “energy star” rated appliances tax free during these dates.

Marble Hill Fire Department members Chief Jim Bollinger and Captain Calvin Troxel made a presentation to the Board with news that the fire truck they had hoped to have purchased by now was badly misrepresented by the parties who wished to sell it, and was not in the condition that they were lead to believe that it had been.

As Banner Press editor Linda Redeffer reported in the Wednesday February 11, 2009 issue ( “Fire department still looking for new truck”)…

“Instead of buying a 1995 Pierce Lance apparatus, the fire department, showed the board members information about a 1993 Pierce Lance truck, two years older but has only a little over 19000 miles on it. This particular truck has been restored and is being offered for $105,000-about $20,000 more than the first truck.

With the money from the sale of a 1989 engine that no longer meets specifications, plus cash already budgeted and a loan, Bollinger said the department could afford the more expensive truck.

This truck truck will be on display at a conference fire fighter Darren Shell is going to. The aldermen, voted to let Shell take with him a letter from the city stating that if the truck is of good quality then the city will make an offer”

We were supposed to revisit the proposed utility vehicle ordinance again, but will take this issue up at the next regular Board of Aldermen meeting.

The Board also heard a presentation from Paula Bridges of the Bollinger County Recycling project.

Assistant City Administrator Gary Shrum reported that the paperwork for the Missouri Enterprise grant has been sent in. Missouri Enterprise is a non for profit organization that specializes in helping small communities bring new businesses and industry to their area.

Shrum also reported that U.S. Hydrant and Valve, a company that repairs faulty fire hydrants under pressure will be in Marble Hill next month. This company specializes in fixing fire hydrants, without having to dig out water lines or tear up the streets.

The Board also approved a request to purchase a postage metering device for $2,100, the device can mark and seal up to 95 letters per minute and will eliminate the need purchase and apply stamps. It was my position that anything to improve the efficiency of City Hall would be worth $2,100, whether by bypassing the post office or any other means.

The Board of Alderman also went into closed session to discuss several legal matters.

When the Board re-entered regular session,Chief Dennis Willis approached the Board of Alderman to address complaints that the recently purchased 2005 Chevy Trail Blazer was not being utilized on night patrols, an issue Willis was quick to discuss.

Chief Willis said that he had been approached by Alderman Southwick and Officer Shaffer about taking the Trail Blazer to Benton, Missouri to have lights and radios installed in it stating that he had been lead to believe that they were doing so with the Board’s blessing.

I stated that I had never been contacted about the matter, nor have I heard any complaints about the Chief and that the Trail Blazer was to be used for inclement weather conditions.

Assistant Administrator Shrum said that the shop in Benton that Southwick and Shaffer took the Trail Blazer to was not one that is usually used by the City.

Chief Willis said that at the time the snow and ice storm had hit, the Trail Blazer was in the shop at Benton.

The City did get the Trail Blazer back in time to patrol the snow and ice filled streets but Chief Willis stated that he damaged his personal truck getting to and from work during the inclement weather; therefore he had to utilize the Trail Blazer in his duties as well as get to and from work.

Willis sought direction from the Board as to who assigns which vehicles the officers will drive and the Board offered support for Chief Willis stating it was his department to run as he sees fit, with that the Chief offered his thanks and promised the matter would be taken care of.

The Board of Aldermen will hold a Special Meeting on Friday February 27th, 2009 at the Marble Hill City Hall, starting at 5:00 pm; it will discuss the hiring of a city maintenance employee, and revisit the proposed contract with the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri.

As always we appreciate public input and the public is welcome and encouraged to share their views regarding City matters. If you want to address the Board of Aldermen during our February 27th, Special Meeting, please drop by or call City Hall at: 573-238-3622 and have your name added to the agenda.

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