The Rock Port Board of Aldermen met Wednesday, August 19, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. with Mayor Chris Chamberlain presiding. Board members present were Ron Deatz, Lisa Farmer, and Todd Stevens. Lavon Paukert was absent. Also present were Superintendent Trevor Hale and City Clerk Emily Schulte. Visitors were Fire Chief Scott Jones, Scott Driskell, Ryan Graham, and Austin and Madison Alitz.
The meeting agenda was approved, as well as the minutes of the meeting July 15, 2020.
Fire Chief Scott Jones was in attendance to address a few concerns. He had read the previous meeting minutes in which a possible speed bump program was discussed. Issues he saw arising would be these speed bumps causing damage to emergency vehicles as well as delaying response times.
Mayor Chamberlain stated that this was his initiative and it is just now in the beginning of the discussions phase. Not only has nothing been decided, but he possibly labeled his initiative incorrectly, as a speed reduction program would likely be a better initiative description. Chamberlain wanted to add that since the last meeting he has also been researching towns that have used surface paint in the roadways of their speed issue areas as creative ways to slow drivers down.
Chief Jones then addressed the issue of minors operating golf carts in town. City ordinances state you must be a licensed driver, be at least 18 years old, and have proof of insurance to operate a golf cart on city streets. However, Jones’ only real concern is the small children he has seen operating them without adult supervision not only on side streets, but also on Main Street, a MoDOT highway. He fears for those children’s safety on these busy roadways.
Finally, Chief Jones wanted to address accessibility to city fire hydrants and streets. Between overgrown landscaping and vehicles parked either in front of or too closely to hydrants, the fire department could potentially have accessibility issues in times of emergency. There are also several streets fire trucks aren’t capable of currently traveling due to risk of breaking lights.
Austin and Madison Alitz were present to discuss the residence they are building on Fourth Street. They are putting in an underground primary, and it was relayed that the consumer is responsible for any underground installation; however, the cost of materials was questioned. Austin pointed out that the water ordinance addresses the costs associated with materials, but the electrical ordinance does not. Alitz was curious about possible cost sharing for those materials. Superintendent Hale informed the board that since his employment with the city, those have always been at the resident’s expense, but did acknowledge the grey area that can be found within that ordinance. Hale stated briefly speaking with Alitz prior to the meeting and noted their plans to discuss it further then readdress the inquiry at an upcoming meeting.
Board members voted to approve the city financial statements, accounts payables, tax report, delinquent tax list, and all board and departmental reports.
They also voted to approve the utility financial statements, accounts payables, purchased power and water statements, take or pay water use report, water loss reports, Utility Clerk report and City Superintendent report.
2020 Tax Rate
Bill #1207 – 2020 Tax Rate – was read two times and approved by the aldermen. Mayor Chamberlain declared Bill #1207, Ordinance #1207.
Per concerns heard during the hearing regarding the MoDOT owned portion of Skyline Drive, Alderman Stevens requested Superintendent Hale have an engineer the city currently has on retainer take a look at its current condition as well as recommendations for necessary improvement, to include a budgetary estimate for cost.
Superintendent Hale passed along his correspondence with the MoDOT representative he has been working with. He has requested the maps a couple of times and will distribute those to the engineer and attorney once they are provided.
The aldermen voted to approve Trevor initiating the engineering for Skyline Drive for any cost quoted at $2,500 or below.
Work order requests of site maintenance at the water plant have been received. Alderman Stevens noted that no maintenance specs were within the lease agreement itself, but the board did give verbal consent for a one-time property mowing. The aldermen approved one mowing at the water plant site as verbally stated previously. Any other future maintenance discussions should come in the format of an amended lease agreement proposal.
Do It Best Ramp
Written opinions from MIRMA and the city attorney were presented for the city’s obligations and options of assisting Do It Best in having a ramp installed at their front entrance. Per MIRMA, the city would be required to have the project first engineered, as the installation of a ramp failed the initial engineering when that portion of sidewalk was being redone in 2016. Hale’s estimated costs for engineering and materials to install an ADA approved ramp could exceed $10,000 at this point. Mayor Chamberlain was asked if he thought Do It Best was planning to financially contribute with the project, but he didn’t believe they were.
When the city attorney’s recommendation letter was read, it was highlighted that the city can not legally utilize public funds for a private purpose. The city is responsible for insuring individuals have access to the sidewalks. It is then the business’ responsibility to provide access from the sidewalk into their establishment. Alderman Stevens pointed out that if the city were to have the project engineered again and it failed, the city would be liable for those costs, and not be able to install an ADA approved ramp.
The hiring of a court clerk was discussed. Applications are already being accepted, but interviews will not take place until a wage range is decided by the board. The aldermen approved a court clerk wage range between $13.50 – $15.00 an hour, based on experience.
City Clerk Schulte
Clerk Schulte presented the board with the park management agreement calendar edits submitted by the Park Board for review as well as an idea from a Tourism Board member for a Main Street beautification initiative. Alderman Stevens suggested that the park management agreement should have updated signatures for both the current mayor and Park Board president.
Superintendent Hale reported that water loss is being maintained and the city is currently between 17-18%. Smoke testing is underway; a few small mishaps have occurred, but nothing serious. Several illegal connections have been discovered that will need to be addressed, and once disconnected could improve current conditions of the Burke Circle lift station. Calhoun Street is finished with the exception of curbs and gutters. Hillside Drive will be one of the next projects, as time allows. Cass Street is still on hold until the water line can be replaced. The contractor has yet to provide a timeline for that project.
The bid opening for the 2020-2021 water tower project will be in September. Squirrels have been a continuous issue lately causing power outages.
Alderwoman Farmer inquired how large the right-of-way for an alley is as well as what’s allowed to be located within that area. Superintendent Hale replied that temporary structures can reside within that area, however he and Chief Sherwood might have different definitions of temporary, so it would be best to ask the chief’s opinion.
Farmer then relayed that she was approached about the school holding a bonfire on the practice field and if that would be allowed. It has been done in the past, but they should inform the necessary parties of their plans for a controlled burn.
Bicycles on Main Street sidewalks were then discussed along with how Rock Port ordinances address the topic.
Alderman Deatz let Chief Jones know that he would make an effort to go around and checking the accessibility of city hydrants. He was also in favor of a speed reduction initiative that wouldn’t involve speed bumps.
Alderman Stevens mentioned the Park Board’s Pool Committee has been kicked off, but not many were in attendance for the first meeting. Individuals interested in joining this committee should contact Katey Kroger. Stevens did state that he would be fine with utilizing money from the Pool Replacement Fund to assist in getting a plan put together to give people something to look at from the pool study commissioned a few years ago.
Stevens also passed along that the Park Board inquired if they should be looking into getting a mowing contract. They were informed that if they wanted to do so, it would be a good idea to start that project soon.
Mayor Chamberlain passed along that Chief Sherwood wanted all to be aware that a new officer was hired and he would be starting later this month. Chamberlain and Alderwoman Farmer sat in on the interview and both commented on how well it went.
Mayor Chamberlain then addressed being satisfied with the progress the Skyline Drive discussions are hopefully making. Chamberlain then made mention of his previous description of a speed bump program, as a reduction program would have better illustrated what he is working to accomplish. Frustrations are being felt with MIRMA guidelines and recommendations. A work session meeting should likely be held the end of August or beginning of September to finish establishing city wage and salary ranges.
The aldermen voted to adjourn into executive session for personnel matters pursuant to Section 610.021 (3) RSMo.
The executive session adjourned and the regular meeting resumed. The regular meeting was then adjourned.