By MURRAY BISHOFF
Monett City Council members received adamant objections to a proposed city ordinance that would halt fundraisers at city intersections.
At Monday's November council meeting, representatives from two of the three service organizations in Monett that hold "boot block" fundraisers were present to comment on the proposed change.
Quentin Carter, commander of Tom Wolfe Memorial Post #4207, Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the Post is required by its state organization to hold its Buddy Poppy drive. According to past proclamations signed by Monett mayors, the effort raises funds "exclusively for the benefit of disabled and needy veterans." The VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary collects donations at Highways 37 and 60 and at the intersection of Fifth and Cleveland.
"This will hurt us bad," said Carter.
Jon Suit, secretary for the Monett Kiwanis Club, read a letter from Kiwanis President Eric Kean.
"The process of soliciting at intersections has a clean safety record in Monett," Kean wrote. "The monies collected in this manner are critical to philanthropic organizations in our community. Insurance policies are in place to cover those who take part in the fundraising."
The Kiwanians hold "Peanut Day" fundraisers twice a year. Money has been used in the past to help the Children's Miracle Network, battling iodine deficiency and neo-natal malaria through Kiwanis International.
"Kiwanis derives a significant percentage of our annual budget from these semi-annual events," Kean wrote.
Suit said that over the past 20 years, the Kiwanians have collected around $60,000 from its boot block efforts.
The Monett Council of the Knights of Columbus also holds its annual Tootsie Roll drive to help services for those with developmental disabilities.
Mayor Jim Orr said the city ordinance change had been proposed at the request of the Missouri Department of Transportation. The primary concern was any persons standing in street intersections represented a distraction to drivers. Fundraisers created a concern as did advertisers or political or religious groups carrying signs.
Suit said the amount of donations Kiwanians received was divided almost evenly between the Highway 60 and Cleveland locations. He agreed with Carter that fundraising efforts would take twice as long if the highway was not available.
Orr said council members had several options to consider. He did not schedule a final vote on the proposal but said council members would study the comments received and determine what action, if any, should be taken.
At the recommendation of City Administrator Dennis Pyle, council members approved revising the fiscal year 2011-12 budget. Pyle said sales tax revenues has grown by 8 percent, or $165,670 after projections had anticipated no increase.
After factoring out money for the tax increment financing projects and money dedicated for the Justice Center, Pyle said the revenue rise left $149,100 for use on capital projects. He proposed the following: $34,800 for a roof over the new bin storing road salt; $22,700 for a mower for the cemetery; $16,600 for a groomer that drags and levels the infield on the North Park ballfields; $28,000 for a basketball court for the North Park; $6,000 for a diagnostic machine for the city mechanic; and $50,000 for the office building at 508 Bond St. that the city is purchasing from Sprenkle and Associates.
Pyle said the change included no predictions about whether sales tax income would rise or fall for the rest of the year. Council members approved the budget change.
Bills for the month totaling $1,551,931.94 were approved. Major items included: $1,006,091.73 to Empire District Electric for wholesale electricity; $49,000 to Allgeier, Martin and Associates for engineering work on the new water treatment plant; and $33,000 to Fletcher Reinhardt Company for electrical transformers.
No public comments were offered on the council's proposals to limit property owners to 60 days to take action on a disabled and/or unregistered vehicle.
Under a second proposal, the police department will issue a notice of violation then act within 10 days. The property owner will be charged for the towing fee and for vehicle storage if a vehicle has to be removed.
Hearing no comments, Orr scheduled a final vote to adopt the proposals for the next monthly meeting on Dec. 20.
No comment was forthcoming on the proposal to update the pawnbrokers' ordinance. According to Bonnie Witt-Schulte from the police department, a pawnbroker can hold stolen property. The change allows the owner to get the property back. Restitution for funds lost by the pawnbroker could come through action by the city prosecutor, not just by the state.
Orr slated final reading for Dec. 20.
Council members approved changing the mutual aid agreement between the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District and the city police and fire departments. Witt-Schulte, as dispatching supervisor, said the mandated quarterly meetings have provided more than enough opportunity to address issues. She asked to have the number of sessions reduced to twice a year, which was approved.
Council members authorized two studies on the city's LAGERS state retirement plan. Pyle said the city routinely reviews its plan every two or three years. The LAGERS program will make a free evaluation of the city's non-contributory program. At a cost of $360, the council voted to authorize a review of benefits in a plan where employees contribute to the program.
The 1994 dump truck was sold for $2,001 to Robert Leavitt, of Pierce City. Leavitt was one of two bidders. The city recently upgraded to a newer model.