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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Monett Council discusses water rate rise

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Standpipes in Monett's Industrial Park. The rear standpipe on the east is due for maintenance work this month. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Public discussion on plans to raise water and sewer rates in Monett, as previously unveiled in the city's 2009-10 budget, was scheduled at yesterday's monthly meeting of the Monett City Council.

Ordinances on both the water and sewer plans were introduced. Under the proposal, rate changes will go into effect on July 1. Additional revenues would go into a restricted fund to go toward specific system improvements.

A special meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, May 13, to receive public comment.

Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch explained the proposed water rate change is a $2 increase on the base rate, and an increase of 40 cents on each 1,000 gallons used over the minimum.

Initially, the increases in water rates will go toward building a loop around the city, first on the north and then on the south. New mains will be built to carry water from the North Park well and the well on the Jack Henry and Associates' property to the old Rutherford farm.

Construction of the treatment plant to purify muddy well water will take a bond issue, Rauch said, going before voters at a later date.

Sewer rates under the proposal will have a $2 increase in the base rate and a 30-cent increase on each 1,000 gallons used subsequently. Rauch said the sewer operation is not breaking even at the present time, when depreciation is factored.

A major effort has begun to address inflow and infiltration into the sanitary sewer system, Rauch said. Ten new flow monitors have been installed in manholes around the city. Several trouble spots have been found with a new camera. Rauch expects to smoke test the entire sewer system.

"There's not enough money to throw at this all at once," Rauch said. "(The rate increase will) let us proceed."

Railroad crossings discussed

Council members discussed what to do about the railroad crossing at Central Avenue, now that the new bridge over Eisenhower has opened. Under the city's contract with the railroad and the Missouri Department of Transportation, the crossing will be closed on April 29.

Mayor Jim Orr said he expects concrete barriers to be placed in the roadway to block any traffic. Other details have yet to be worked out. The mayor said a fence will be installed on the north side with a gate for access into Main Street Feeds. Who will pay for the gate has not yet been determined. Whether or not a pedestrian crossing is installed will depend on the outcome of the city's current application for another section of Greenways Trail.

In other matters, council members voted to revise the license tax for natural gas franchises. The 5 percent fee did not change. City Administrator Dennis Pyle said the new ordinance called for quarterly payments instead of an annual sum.

Gym contract and bills

The contract for leasing the Monett Gymnastics Center generated several inquiries but only one bid, the mayor reported. Shawn Hines, who has had the contract to rent the facility since 2006, was awarded a new contract at $1,100 a month, an increase of $100 a month.

According to Pyle, the latest contract is for one year and has an option for two one-year extensions. If the contract is renewed for two more years, the lease rate will not change.

Bills for the month came to $1,469,568.85. Only one major bill was included in the total, sending $1,051,999.27 to Empire District Electric for wholesale electricity. Utilities Superintendent Rauch said the fuel surcharge added by Empire to cover its expenses added up to $253,290.07 of the bill.

Department reports

Mayor Orr asked department heads to report on their recent activities. Street Superintendent Russ Balmas said his crews were finishing the last stretch of the Greenways Trail connecting the golf course with the new link over the Eisenhower bridge. Sanitation crews were getting ready for Clean-Up Week.

Fire Chief Tom Jones reported a letter of appreciation had been received from the McCully family for the successful efforts in saving their home during the April 4 fire that destroyed the former McCully tire shop. Rauch said the firemen did a "remarkable job" in saving the entire neighborhood from the fire while facing high winds.

Rauch informed the council that the switchover in providing electricity in the Valley View subdivision, the Heim trailer park and the Brownsberger property will take place this week. Lines to carry power from the city's system instead of Empire's had been finished.

All customers will experience a brief outage when power is transferred, Rauch said. Then crews from the city and Empire will go door-to-door changing meters, creating a second outage that will last for several minutes.

Crews for Utility Services have finished work at the North Park standpipe. Rauch said it took 28 hours to refill the standpipe, and he expected it to be back in service by noon today. The crew will next go to the east standpipe in the Industrial Park, which will be sandblasted on the inside. Work on the final standpipe will take about four weeks, he said.

Police Chief Tim Schweder reported Crossland Construction has had crews in last week and this week completing work on the Justice Center. Crews have done what was needed on the floors and are now working on the roof and doors. Municipal Court Clerk Mechelle Tharp said the problem on the lights in the municipal courtroom has still not been fixed.

Building Inspector George Rausch said that of the 15 new projects he reported last month, six have started and the rest are in the design stage. He noted contractor Gordon Renfro has broken the lull in housing by starting work on one of three lots on Oakdale Lane.

Rausch commended Alicia Holle for her work as nuisance officer. He had referred several matters to Holle and she responded quickly and got the properties in question cleaned up.

Preparations were nearly complete for the annual Water and Wastewater Conference which the Monett Utilities Department hosts at the City Park Casino. The event will be held on May 5, according to Rausch.

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