Facing a June 18 deadline for the city to opt out of the Sales Tax Holiday, Mayor Jim Orr raised the question for discussion. All of the major cities in the area and most counties have chosen not to give discounts from sales tax during the three-day period, but Monett has continued to participate.
"I think it's a good service to the people," said Orr.
City Administrator Dennis Pyle's best estimate figured participating in the Sales Tax Holiday will cost the city around $4,000. Pyle wondered if most people knew they saved 1.75 percent in sales tax during that period by shopping in Monett and had talked to the Chamber of Commerce about promoting the opportunity.
"I question the state's wisdom in doing [the Sales Tax Holiday]," said Commissioner Mike Brownsberger. "I think if we're going to have it, we ought to be a part of it."
Once a city opts out of the Sales Tax Holiday, staying out requires no further vote. Pyle said it was doubtful area towns who chose to get out in the past would change their minds this year.
Railroad crossing deal
Council members approved a financial deal for the complete closure of the Central Avenue railroad crossing, ending chances for a pedestrian crossing at that site. Under the deal, Pyle explained, the city will install fencing on the north side of the tracks that will include a gate, giving the property owner access for maintenance. The city will maintain a key to the locked gate.
The railroad will install permanent barricades and tear off the top of the street to prevent motor vehicle use. In return, the city will get a quiet zone where the nearly 30 trains that pass through town daily will not blow their whistles. Most towns have to pay the railroad to secure such a benefit, Pyle said.
The city will get an additional $65,000 in return for closing the crossing, $30,000 of which comes from the safety fund of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). The money was stipulated to be used for any community improvement project of the city's choice, according to the deal worked out with MoDOT. Deducting the cost of the fence and installation, Pyle said there should be $50,000 left for some project, according to Pyle.
Talks about establishing a bicycle path over the Highway 37 viaduct bridge are continuing, Pyle said. MoDOT has determined the viaduct is wide enough to accommodate a bike path and is open to having it on the east side, allowing a connection to Dairy Street without crossing traffic.
|The final change order with Snyder Bridge Company for construction of bridges on Eisenhower was for $12,592.90. Pyle said the expense came from the need for more seeding. Total cost of the project was $1,863,716.50.||Commissioner Jerry Dierker said the workmanship of the project was good.|
At Pyle's recommendation, council members voted to join the Missouri Securities Investment Program (MOSIP). Established as a vehicle for schools and cities to use for their investments, MOSIP is available for members. Pyle said it gave the city another option for placing its money. Joining now would avoid a last minute paperwork scramble should the city choose to use MOSIP when bidding its investments. No cost was involved in joining.
The city-wide spring clean up cost $58,550.18. Pyle suspected the cost was fairly comparable to last year, perhaps up a little due to tipping fee increases. Sanitation crews were making a third sweep through town, collecting branches and brush that may have been added after the May 8 wind storm. Pyle said the collection would continue until June 1, after which time crews would go back to the once-a-month rotation, requiring residents to call and schedule a pick-up.
A glitch was reported on the city's automatic deduction of utility bills from bank accounts for approximately 50 customers. Due to a miscommunication between city staff and U.S. Bank, the bill in the past month was charged to customers twice. Pyle said the problem was corrected the same day, and the city offered to pay any overdraft charges that may have been incurred. City Clerk Janie Knight said U.S. Bank staff members were very helpful in resolving the issue.
Council members gave final approval to increasing the base rates for water and sewer service, as previously discussed.
Bills for the month adding up to $1,505230.70 were paid. The largest amount was $1,005,085.74 to Empire District Electric for wholesale electricity, plus $236,443.74 for the fuel surcharge. Other big bills included $38,000 to Utility Services for work on water towers and $17,000 for the purchase of transformers from Arkansas Electric.