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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monett accepts settlement with phone company

Monday, August 10, 2009

Downtown Monett at sunset. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Arrangements for a settlement with Southwestern Bell Telephone that should bring more than $126,000 to the city of Monett were announced at a special meeting of the Monett City Council last week.

City Administrator Dennis Pyle said that negotiations have continued with phone companies over under-calculations of gross receipts taxes and business license taxes. Talks have been part of a class action suit to which Monett has been a party.

Pyle said the initial calculation estimates the city will receive $126,521.23 from Southwestern Bell in the settlement. The final amount may be slightly different.

Second and third readings for an ordinance accepting the settlement have been scheduled for the monthly meeting on Aug. 20. Pyle said action by the council is needed by Aug. 24 to solidify the deal.

Income from the settlement has not been worked into the current year's budget.

"Hopefully the amount of the settlement will cover our shortfall," Pyle said.

Council members approved two contracts for work on the sewer system. One will cover installation of a new major sewer interceptor to cross under the railroad tracks near the Main Street Feeds storage buildings. The 18-inch main will become the primary connection to the 36-inch line heading to the waste treatment plant.

Utilities Inspector Pete Rauch said around five years ago it was discovered the present main line, which crosses under the railroad tracks around Second Street, had deteriorated badly. Rauch said it would be "catastrophic" if the line collapsed, cutting off the sewer service for much of the north side of town. The line is thought to have been installed around 1915.

Out of the six bidders, Vaughn Construction had the low price at $76,2409.10. Four bidders were under $78,000 while the engineer's estimate had been $95,000, so Rauch felt the city was getting a good deal in awarding the contract to Vaughn's.

Most of the expense in the contract will go toward boring under the railroad tracks. Rauch said the old line is still good and will not be abandoned.

To continue rehabilitating old sewer lines, council members voted to approve a maximum of $100,000 of work by the Insituform company to line old sewer mains.

Thanks to the city's new camera that is used to photograph sewer mains, very specific areas of deterioration have been found, Rauch said. Insituform will be working in 10 different locations, all in the central part of the city, on eight-inch mains installed from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The contract covers 4,000 linear feet at a cost of $99,288. Work will help limit the amount of storm water getting into the sanitary sewer system, Rauch said.

Public comment was accepted on proposed revisions in the city's purchasing procedures. The new process involves the city administrator in lieu of always having the city commissioner overseeing specific departments involved and raises limits on some purchases. City council approval is still required on all purchased of $25,000 or more.

With the new process, Mayor Jim Orr said all purchases of $500 and above will have the bids attached. Council members can see the costs rather than relying on oral accounts. The procedure also authorized the general manager of utilities to make purchases up to $25,000 to replace equipment during an emergency that had been declared in writing by the mayor, such as an ice storm.

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