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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Freistatt board discusses village nuisance law

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Freistatt village board members discussed how to enforce nuisance laws with their marshal and city attorney during the board's September meeting.

Since City Attorney Don Trotter advised the Lawrence County Associate Circuit Court can process some nuisance violations for the village, board members have been moving toward having Marshal Kevin Davis take on a bigger role in the community. Previously Davis's duties have been largely limited to Ernte Fest weekend.

Discussion at board meetings has centered on property clean-up. Davis said he plans to personally talk to people to encourage voluntary cooperation before raising the question of issuing a ticket. Several properties that continue to be a problem were identified and discussed during the session.

Davis pointed out the nuisance ordinance contains language that in most instances defers enforcement to the chairman of the village board. Board member Elmer Conway recalled when the ordinance was drafted, the village did not have a marshal, leaving enforcement in the hands of the village's highest elected official.

City Attorney Trotter said the ordinances can easily be modified. Authority to enforce town laws comes from the board itself. "Marshal" or a duly appointed party can be listed as an agent of the board.

Enforcement of the village's law over keeping dogs confined came up during the past month when one resident's dog got loose and bit a child. The dog owner came to the board to explain he had erected an electric fence to prevent any further incidents.

Board members and Davis commended the dog owner for taking the steps he has. Mayor Mike Ortwein said they understood the incident had been an accident. It was noted that any dog owner whose animal gets loose is subject to receiving a ticket. Attorney Trotter added that if the same animal was involved in a second incident, the law extends criminal liability to the owner.

In trying to organize the village's collection of laws, Clerk Deborah Schoen presented board members with the city code books from Pierce City and Washburn, two towns represented by Trotter. Schoen said the other code books offered a way to categorize the village's laws, which are presently assembled only in chronological order. Trotter said the village could adapt ordinances from other towns to match circumstances in Freistatt.

Board members expressed appreciation to Trotter for working with them in trying to codify the village's laws without spending the significant amount other towns have done to hire Sullivan Publications to overhaul their ordinances. The code books will be studied over the next month as laws from the other towns are reviewed for their applicability to Freistatt.

Kurt Kreuger from The CPA Group in Monett presented the audit for the fiscal year ending on December 31, 2008. Kreuger noted there was little change from the previous audit.

Overall, village revenues exceeded expenditures by $14,120.76, almost $10,000 less than in the previous year. Operating expenses increased by over $1,100 from the previous year.

The village's general fund raised $21,269.56 for the year. Almost half of that came from franchise fees paid by utilities for the privilege of serving Freistatt customers. Another quarter came from gasoline taxes.

Of the $21,747.28 spent during the year, a quarter was spent on contract labor. Over half was spent on utilities for city buildings, insurance, professional services and supplies. The board spent $1,448 for county deputies to slow down speeding on Highway H.

Fund balances rose for water and sewer reserves. Cost to run the utilities was $31,330, compared to income of $60,789.68. Under the terms of the village's loan for upgrading its water system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture insisted that the village maintain higher balances than before.

Kreuger said the restricted fund, which could be used only for water purposes, offered enough to replace a well pump due to a lightning strike or some other major maintenance issue. Kreuger had no concerns to express to the board about its management or the village's record keeping.

Department reports

Clerk Schoen said Tim Houdyshell, maintenance superintendent for the Missouri Department of Transportation, reported a state crew planned to make repairs to shoulders of Highway H during the week of Oct. 19. Plans also call for fog sealing 10 feet on both sides of the road starting where the paved shoulders are at both north and south end of town.

Schoen collected $170 in late fees for August utilities billing and $150 in security deposits. It was the first time the village got deposits from new renters on trailers that have been available on a rent-to-own basis. Previously the liability was solely on the landlord, whose own deposit had not covered the bills of those who chose to move.

Board members allowed three certificates of deposit to roll over without changes.

Charlie Ingram, the outgoing water and wastewater operator, reported the lagoon sat at under one foot in height after three irrigation sessions. The village had over nine inches of rain in August, according to Ingram's water gauge.

Board members discussed concern about the mold smell in the 75-year-old community building. Board members agreed to consult Willie Hesemann on maintenance and explore getting the roof sealed.

Schoen reported the Freistatt Community Development Corporation still had not met to address business matters.

Ernte Fest had passed without trouble, it was reported. Several observed Lawrence County deputies were in town in unusual numbers to address traffic concerns during the two-day event.

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