Pierce City aldermen faced new financial challenges at the November city council meeting.
Mayor Allen Stockton said plans to replace the generator at the wastewater treatment plant have once again fallen through. The backup generator that had previously aided the decommissioned well at the old National Guard Armory will not work as a replacement. Although both generators produced the same amount of electricity, the old well generator needed much more voltage to run.
Stockton said the city can probably buy a new generator for the price of rewiring the well generator. He understood the current generator at the wastewater plant starts but would fail during prolonged use, and the wastewater plant had to have a back-up power source.
Cummins Mid-America could assess if the current generator had repair potential, Stockton said. If not, the mayor favored taking bids for an immediate replacement.
Another unbudgeted expense surfaced when the meter on the north well began failing. Stockton said B and L Waterworks of Miami, Okla., provided the only bid to replace it at $1,639. The meter dated back to the 1970s, had an odd bolt pattern and parts were no longer available. Aldermen approved the purchase. City crews will have to install it.
Clerk Julie Johnson asked aldermen to consider signing up for unemployment insurance. If a past employee loses their next job, the state office would go back four quarters to previous employers to seek benefits. Johnson worried the city could find itself charged without recourse.
The city's premium would run $500 a month. Johnson said unemployment claims have been minimal, but the city would have no concerns with insurance.
Aldermen Scott Wahl and John Archer wanted to budget the expenditure before committing to it. Alderman Brandon Raley suggested Johnson try to set $500 a month aside to cover the premium in hopes that would cover any actual costs in the coming year.
Johnson told aldermen the city was insuring the Ray Carver Building, which houses the Clark Community Mental Health Center, for $4,254,272. The figure came from the amount of money put into the facility during reconstruction. The amount covered replacement costs and none of the contents. Johnson asked aldermen to reconsider the amount of coverage.
Former Mayor Mark Peters told aldermen the arrangement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) over replacing buildings destroyed in the 2003 tornado required the city to insure its buildings for replacement value in perpetuity. If not, FEMA would not provide any assistance for those buildings in another disaster.
Aldermen agreed the current replacement value of the Carver Building may have changed. Johnson said she would seek a commercial appraiser to provide a current quote for insurance purposes.
Work is progressing on the new park at the Highway 97 railroad crossing and Commercial Street. Mayor Stockton praised project supervisor Ben Layton and his assistants Bob Harris and Jim Larkin for their recent work in getting all the concrete poured. Nearly $6,000 remains in the fund of almost $14,000 for the project.
The historic Newman fountain, which is due to be installed on the site, needs paint repair. Johnson reported Mid America Auto Lifts would sandblast and powder paint the fountain black for $750. Color would raise the price to $950.
Aldermen agreed to ask Historic Pierce City to see if the organization would cover the cost of making the fountain green and white, the school colors. Council members were reluctant to have the fountain painted black to match the benches. Miracle Recreation Equipment would supply the 60-inch benches at $800 each and mount them with concrete near the walks
Several names have been suggested for the park, including the Restawhile Park, recalling a nearby earlier park located where the Casey's convenience store is today. Other names include Remember Me Park, Volunteer Park, Peirce City Park with the town's original spelling, the Grace Tinker Memorial Park and Central Park. Naming ideas may be submitted at city hall.
Archer asked for an update on the deteriorated properties discussed at recent meetings. Police Chief Mike Abramovitz, speaking as building inspector, said Lester Morris had made no recent progress on the condemned building next to the city museum. Archer said enough time had passed and asked for action on demolition. Johnson was directed to have a hearing notice published and seek bids for demolition.
Activity was reported on the former convenience store at Gibbs and Commercial but no letters were reaching the owner. Archer asked for action in getting the weeds cut.
The property on the northeast corner of Walnut and Washington would be cleaned up and the cost placed as a lien on the property taxes, Johnson reported.