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Pierce City pool project to proceed

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pierce City aldermen are already gearing up for the swimming season by authorizing work to be completed on the municipal pool. Action came during the board's February meeting.

Aldermen authorized Blue Water Pools, of Little Rock, Ark., to install seven fiberglass tanks to filter debris from the water efficiently. Project costs are expected to be about $24,800 if city employees remove the existing tanks prior to Blue Water employees' arrival at the job site.

Aldermen approved spending $6,804 of the city's parks budget and borrowing the remaining $18,000 to cover costs. City Clerk Julie Johnson said she anticipated the loan being paid off from the parks budget in 18 months. The vote was five to one in favor of the motion with Scott Wahl, Dana Stanphill, Cory Sooter, John Archer and Brandon Raley approving it and Brian Jones opposing it. Melissa Creed and Kenny Smith were both absent from the meeting.

Gordon Brown, executive director of the Monett Area YMCA, which oversees Pierce City pool operations, was on-hand to offer proposals as to the pool opening and closing dates. Aldermen tabled the matter until the regular March meeting to see what progress is made on the pool renovations.

Brown did request the fence between the main pool and the baby pool be removed in order to allocate lifeguard resources more efficiently. If the fence remains, the operations of the baby pool would require a separate lifeguard station. With the fence removed, lifeguards can quickly and easily access the baby pool from the existing lifeguard stations on site.

In other business, aldermen referred a zoning variance request from Melody Fisher, who provides seasonal tax preparation and bookkeeping services from her home on South Ford Street, to the Planning and Zoning Board for its consideration.

Johnson told aldermen that she is exploring various ways for city residents to pay their utilities bills. Currently, Johnson is researching an online bill pay option as well as auto-withdrawal and bill pay services through the customers' private banks.

"I want to get a handle on this before looking into credit and debit card options," Johnson said. She indicated that some of the services may have a convenience fee that will be assessed to the customer.

Aldermen discussed a raise in water rates for city customers.

"We've got to do this," said Mayor Allen Stockton. "Operating costs are consuming what we're bringing in."

The last water rate hike was in 2008.

The proposed rate schedule would raise the base price to $13 for 1,000 gallons of water from its current $10.95. For each additional 1,000 gallons of water, the price would be $3 instead of the current rate of $2.

Based on a 5,000-gallon-per-month usage, a customer would see their water bill increase from $18.95 to $25.

For those receiving water service outside the city limits, the current base rate of $20.95 would increase to $25. For each additional 1,000 gallons, customers would pay $3.50 as opposed to the current rate of $2.50.

Subsequently, sewer rates would also rise from a base rate of $13.75 to $16 per month.

Jones, a member of the committee researching the matter, said he would prefer the committee have more time to get information.

"If the committee is not 100 percent sure on this, then neither are we," Stockton said.

A special meeting has been scheduled for Feb. 27 to hear the committee's findings and recommendations.

January's police log, provided by Pierce City Police Chief Mike Abramovitz, included: three dog complaints; seven warrant arrests; seven medical calls; three stealing complaints; two suspicious person complaints; five civil disputes; five various vehicle -related complaints; two property damage reports; and two burglary/stealing reports.

January's fire department log, provided by Fire Chief Andy Hogenmiller, included: 18 medical calls; two flue fires; three vehicle fires; three grass fires; one training exercise; and one car wreck.

Johnson provided council members with a proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year for their review. Approval of the budget proposal is expected to take place at the March meeting.

The next regular meeting of the Pierce City Board of Aldermen will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 12 at City Hall.

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