The city council in Pierce City took possession of the railroad caboose and raised sanitation fees during the regular monthly meeting on Monday.
The Frisco railroad caboose has been property of the Pierce City Chamber of Commerce on a narrow strip of land owned by the Congregational Church, set between Casey's convenience store and Fern's Tavern.
Gerald Malan Jr., serving as secretary and acting president of the Chamber came to the city council with a letter signed by himself, donating the caboose to the city.
With the consent of the only other remaining chamber officer, Julie Johnson, and the concurrence of other board members, Malan offered the caboose to the city. He recounted how, in the 1970s, the caboose had been established as a memorial to Pierce Citians of the past who worked for the railroad.
"It's the right thing to do," Malan added.
With the donation came $621.64 to be used for continuing maintenance of the caboose, mainly to replace windows broken by vandals. Mayor Carol Hirsch confirmed plans referenced by Malan to move the caboose to the west side of the city hall parking lot, on land owned by the city but not used.
Aldermen accepted the donation without hesitation. Alderman John Archer said the Congregational Church welcomed the exchange, because it lacked funds to cover the memorial on its insurance. Hirsch said the caboose should fall under the city's liability insurance umbrella.
Moving the caboose will require funding the city lacks. Hirsch said overtures are being made toward the fund for preservation of historical Frisco material to complete the one block transfer, including the piece of track on which the caboose sits.
With an ordinance prepared by the Missouri Department of Transportation, aldermen completed annexation of Highway 97 and its right of way from the south city limits to Highway 60.
"I tried to do this 10 years ago," Hirsch said.
"What it makes possible is the future growth of the city outside of the flood plain. It will eventually be valuable."
Stanphill Sanitation notified the city that it was about to raise the city's fee for residential trash collection from $4,500 to $5,000 a month. Hirsch asked aldermen to raise the residential fee to cover costs.
The city had been billing residents $10 a month. That covered the fee when the city had 500 customers, but that number has dropped to 471, reported City Clerk Johnson. The city has been losing money on trash collection for a number of months by billing $9 per customer. Billing customers $10.61 a month would be needed to break even. Aldermen opted to set a new monthly rate at $11 to cover costs and recoup lost funds.
After two generators failed during a recent power outage, Hirsch again presented aldermen with the proposal from Cummins Central Power in Joplin to overhaul the city's four generators for $2,619.85. Hirsch said without a diagnosis, there are no clues why the new generator on the south well worked on one day's test and failed to start in an outage. Aldermen approved the proposal.
Hirsch asked aldermen about getting the city hall parking lot sealed. Storm water drainage off the building has contributed to asphalt problems. Aldermen asked for a formal bid call so they can take action in October.
Looking at other funding options, Hirsch reported deadlines on applications for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) have been dropped. She thought a new canvass of residents would show at least 51 percent of the population qualified as low to middle income, the threshold for qualifying for grant money. In the 2000 census, 48 percent of residents fell under the income margin.
More pressing at the moment is another grant application for engineering work. The engineering study would detail how the city's water distribution system has deteriorated. Hirsch said the city did not qualify for the grant last year because it had not had water quality violations. The engineering study would bolster the application for CDBG funds.
Hirsch said she planned to approach Scott Engineering to help with the application for an Oct. 30, 2009, deadline. Aldermen agreed funding was sorely needed. Aldermen Allen Stockton pointed out one of the water towers also needs painting to avoid an even more expensive repair.
Federal stimulus money also seems out of reach, Hirsch said. Bonds available through the county would require a public vote. She did not see this as a good time to ask for more money from the public, especially in light of the school bond issue in the works. Johnson observed federal money has been available for shovel-ready projects.
"We don't have the money to get ready," Johnson said.
The new city dog pound is ready for use, reported Alderman Scott Wahl. The facility still needs a fourth dog house and power for a light and heat for winter. Hirsch agreed to contact Empire District Electric and make arrangements for getting another power pole nearby.
No one has yet come forward to fill the alderman vacancy in Ward Four following the resignation of Willie Parks. Hirsch said she would like to fill the position.