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PC Council votes to change auditor

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pierce City aldermen voted to change auditing firms, heard a land proposal from the railroad and put together a list of street paving projects for 2009 at its April meeting.

Council members received the audit for fiscal year 2006-07 from its Springfield auditing firm. Mayor Carol Hirsch reported the firm had announced it was behind in handling contracted work and could not estimate when the 2007-08 audit would be finished.

As a result of not having audits, the city is not eligible to apply for any more Community Development Block Grant funds to address the ongoing water system problems. To look at alternatives, Hirsch presented aldermen with a proposal from The CPA Group in Monett to take over future audits. After reviewing a proposal from accountant Patti Weber with The CPA Group, aldermen voted to move their business.

Water problems remained a major point of discussion. Hirsch reported efforts to turn off the badly leaking fire hydrant at Olive and Commercial had failed. The valve, which was installed in a hot tap on the primary water main running north and south down Commercial Street, had successfully stopped flow past the hydrant and up to it, but not the hydrant itself.

Aldermen authorized Hirsch to find another company that could help, since the Texas firm that did the hot tap could not return for several months. Appeals to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources subsequently connected Hirsch with City Utilities in Springfield, which sent down a crew with heavy equipment after hours. The City Utilities crew removed the hydrant and plugged the connection but still could not find the water source.

Hirsch told The Times the City Utilities supervisor was intrigued that Pierce City had a true wildcat water line. He returned again and tracked the water to an unknown east-west main not far from the primary main, only two feet below the surface. The city has no records of where the water mains from 100 years ago were located, and the shallow depth suggested an older line to Hirsch. Crews planned to dig this week to uncover the mystery main and disconnect it if possible.

A new proposal from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad was revealed at the meeting, again offering to sell railroad land to the city south of the railroad tracks. Hirsch had long advocated purchasing the land. The last offer was turned down under Mayor Mark Peters' administration.

Since then, however, the railroad has increased its fee for leasing land to the city for the main lift station, located on the railroad property, from $500 to $900 a year. The sale price of $2,000 has not changed. Alderman John Archer pointed out the land would pay for itself in almost two years by getting rid of the lease.

The railroad wants an appraisal, but Hirsch said an appraiser was having difficulty finding comparable land in a flood plain for comparison. Disposition of a testing well and a fence for the right-of-way still need to be resolved before a deal can be reached, Hirsch said.

Aldermen compared notes and came up with a list of street repairs for the year. Projects in order include North Elm Street to Monroe, Walnut on Morris to Pine, North Walnut from the new whistles to Farm Road 2220, Short Street by the fire station, South Pine from Golubski to Newman, and Timothy Street.

Hirsch reported she is continuing efforts to annex the state right-of-way for Highway 97 from the city limits south to Highway 60. Property owners have been contacted. The mayor noted state regulations now require the city to contact the city of Monett for comment, which has property within five miles of Pierce City.

Construction work to fix water problems in the lower level of the Carver Building had been finished, the mayor reported. She expected the Clark Community Mental Health Center would move back in this week. Trenches have been dug under the floor and a suction system installed to capture incoming water and remove it to a block away.

Work on the city's new dog pound had not been finished by meeting time. The aldermen preparing the site by the wastewater plant had been watching for a stretch of dry weather to lay to final concrete.



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