A new proposal for vacant city land received the attention of city council members in Pierce City during the December council meeting.
With very little progress seen converting the city property on the southeast corner of Locust and Commercial streets into a public marketplace, Historic Pierce City members came to aldermen with a new request. Spokesman Jay Bierkortte said the historic Newman fountain and memorial to local soldiers who fought in Desert Storm have been in storage since the May 4, 2003, tornado.
Historic Pierce City asked permission to get a piece of the corner lot for a pocket park where city history could be explained in a few exhibits. Bierkortte stressed the organization wanted a low maintenance arrangement to display the Newman fountain, show visitors background on the town and possibly erect a marquee sign to announce community events.
"It would be a focal point for the city," Bierkortte said.
Mayor Carol Hirsch welcomed the suggestion and called for a committee composed of aldermen, Historic Pierce City members and others to prepare a plan. Ben Layton, who volunteered to set up the pavilion where a farmer's market had been envisioned on the site, was deemed to be an essential participant.
Hirsch pointed out a permanent electric connection was recently set for the corner. Concrete footings for the planned pavilion have already been poured and rebar acquired for the concrete pad. The city received $13,000 in donations for the project, which largely hinged on Layton pulling it together. Hirsch said there was not enough money to complete the original concept.
A meeting was set for 7 p.m. on Dec. 28 at city hall to develop a plan incorporating all the ideas proposed. Others in the community are welcome to participate, the mayor added.
The latest report on the city's water system continues to baffle city leaders. Out of the 10 million gallons of water pumped last month out of city wells, only a little over 2 million gallons, or 21 percent, is reaching meters, a drop of 8 percent from November. Hirsch said the city should be swimming in water yet no major leaks have been found.
Alderman Allen Stockton repeated his suspicion that something is wrong with the master well meter. No simple test was available to track the accuracy of the meter over time. The city lacks funds to buy a meter replacement.
Hirsch said many more details had been requested for the city's grant application for a water system engineering study. She remained hopeful the grant would be approved. In the meantime, aldermen looked at the possibility of hiring a firm used in Sarcoxie to track leaks in the system.
Health insurance for city employees comes up for renewal at the end of the year. Clerk Julie Johnson said the current policy called for an increase in premiums of 11.3 percent, which neither the city nor the employees could afford.
The insurance broker suggested switching employees to a different policy where they pay 20 percent of the premium. The move increased costs for doctor visits, deductibles and other services. Johnson said the staff agreed the change was manageable and would save the city $6,026.16 a year.
Aldermen accepted the recommendation and voted for the new policy.
Property insurance was also due for renewal. Aldermen voted to stay with Missouri Public Entity Risk Management (MOPERM) for an annual premium of $42,904, an increase of around $3,600.
|Aldermen voted to sell the lot on Golubski Avenue that the city acquired after demolishing the house on site. One bid was received from Kenneth and Gail Golubski for $3,125.||Clerk Julie Johnson reported the city had spent $1,873.29 to clear the land and more than $11,000 mowing the site over the past decade. Aldermen decided the benefits from less mowing outweighed the possibility of recouping their investment.|
Aldermen adopted the resolution calling for an election on April 6, 2010. Four aldermen and the mayor's seat will be chosen at that time.
Hirsch reported that in light of the city's financial difficulties, city employees agreed to an alternative to the practice of receiving $10 for each unused sick day at year's end. One employee offered to take only half of his days as pay. The others offered to waive compensation entirely.
"It's a very generous gesture," Hirsch said.
Aldermen agreed and voted to follow the recommendation.
Hirsch extended her appreciation to the Lions Club for their work on the Christmas parade and to all the volunteers who worked on the parade or helped putting up Christmas lights. She said the city would not have its attractive look for the holidays without their help.