Verona aldermen dealt with a controversial liquor license request and had the mayor break a rare tie vote over a police expenditure at the January meeting.
Aldermen discussed a request from the Guanajuato Restaurant for a liquor-by-the-drink license. No businesses in Verona sell drinks presently and one license is available.
An objection had been raised by the Spanish Baptist Church (Centro de Alabanzo), which is located across a parking lot from the restaurant. City ordinances require a variance from the city council in order for a liquor license to be approved within 100 feet of a church.
Pastor Melvin Mendoza was present, but had Pastor Lindell Morris speak for him. Morris said there is no separation between the church and restaurant properties. Other objections were raised over the sale of liquor by the drink in the community.
A motion to not grant the liquor license passed on a 3-1 vote, with Alderman Matt Pruente voting against it.
Aldermen returned to the issue of complaints heard over police vehicle visibility during stops on Highway 60. When the city purchased new police vehicles, Chief Joe Powell installed interior flashing lights. With the subsequent addition of Highway 60 to the patrol area, the visibility of police vehicles has become a safety concern.
As a solution, council member Deborah Snyder moved to purchase new exterior light bars for all the city's police vehicles. Aldermen Lloyd Airrington objected, citing the city had already spent $1,683 installing lights on Chief Powell's Durango alone.
Aldermen deadlocked on the motion 2-2. Mayor Roy Snyder said there have been issues of safety regarding the city vehicles and thus voted to break the tie in favor of the motion.
Other spending issues
A contract was approved to hire Ace Pipe Cleaning, of Kansas City, to clean and videotape the city's sewer system. Ace has been doing similar work in Kansas City and Mt. Vernon and offered a bid of $1.50 per foot of sewer line.
According to City Clerk Julie Ruscha, Ace would prioritize any problems found and provide a price for repairs. Funds for the work would be drawn from city reserves. Repairs would help address the city's inflow and infiltration problems of getting storm water into the sanitary sewer system, helping to meet higher standards coming from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Aldermen agreed to have the CPA Group, from Monett, audit the city's books for the next three years. A contract was accepted quoting small incremental price increases over the three-year period. A vote was also taken to approve the 2008-09 audit.
Following the rates used by the Internal Revenue Service, aldermen voted to reduce the city's mileage reimbursement rate from 55 to 50 cents per mile.
The city's health insurance policy with Anthem Blue
Cross/Blue Shield through Bell and Associates in Monett was due for renewal. Ruscha reported the city had reduced coverage a year ago to save money. Continuing the same coverage for another year could be done with a 4 percent rise in the city's premium. Aldermen decided the increase was manageable and approved keeping the policy.
The city's annual contract with the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department to continue 911 service was also renewed.
Concern about stray dogs prompted a discussion about what to do with captured dogs without a city pound. Airrington provided three contacts for animal rescue/no kill facilities. Aldermen agreed to pursue a shelter option first, then go to veterinarian Charles Wallace, who offered euthanasia services.
Deborah Snyder proposed requiring dog tags, but her motion received no second. Aldermen decided to look at what other towns do with their dog problems.
Fire Chief Glenn Callsion reported firefighters had made 100 calls in 2009 over medical and weather related issues. BCP Ingredients had donated $1,000 to the fire department which will be used to purchase basic rescue equipment.
Chief Powell reported police had issued 476 citations in 2009, an average of 39 per month. Powell had anticipated revenues of $28,000 for the year and had surpassed $34,000 with two months in the fiscal year remaining.
With the construction of passing lanes completed on Highway 60, Powell said shoulders were now smaller. He intended to scale back on patrolling the highway due to safety issues and concentrate more on the inner city.
The council holds its next meeting on Feb. 23.