BERNIE, Mo. - The Bernie Board of Aldermen passed two ordinances Monday night in their regular meeting. The first ordinance set the tax rate for the coming year, and the second gave the mayor the power to execute a contract with the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission for repaving Main Street.
A tax hearing was held prior to the start of the regular meeting of the board. There were no comments from the public at the hearing. The proposed property tax levy was .5351 per $100 valuation for the general revenue fund and .09 per $100 valuation for the parks and recreation department, making a total levy of .6251 per $100 valuation.
"Property tax rates are set each year by local taxing jurisdictions within the limits set by the Missouri Constitution and laws. Rates are based on the revenues that had been permitted for the prior year with an allowance for growth based on the rate of inflation," according to Missouri statutes.
The rate was up slightly from last year when the total was .6151 per $100 valuation. The ordinance was approved unanimously with all aldermen present. The aldermen are Ivan Mekan, Dennis Jackson, Ray Coats, Todd Young, Tim Gage and Barry Zimmerman.
The second ordinance allowed the mayor to enter the city into a contract for repaving Main Street, and State Highway Z. Mayor James Tilman said the total project cost was to be approximately $584,000, and Bernie's portion would be around $3,000. He said the project would include repaving the parking places on Main so that the entire street would be level. He told the aldermen it was a "good deal" for the city.
The board passed the ordinance by a unanimous vote.
Gage presented a proposal by the Community Center Committee to refurbish the Community Center building. He said the proposal included scraping, caulking, trim work, painting and a new roof. He said the committee had received an estimate on the cost, but he did not want to reveal the amount because the project would have to be put out for bid. He said the committee had the money in their budget to cover the cost of the work.
He then made a motion to move forward on soliciting bids for the project. It passed by a 6-0 vote.
In other business, the aldermen approved setting Dec. 13 for the Christmas meeting. Tilmon appointed Gage and Young to the Christmas Committee to organize the event.
The aldermen set the hours for Halloween trick or treating within the city limits for 5 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31. They also approved having City Superintendent Charles Dean attend an MCGA Conference in Columbia, Mo. in November.
City insurance was the topic of two discussions in the meeting. Lightning hit the sewer treatment plant, which led to repairs totaling $4,828,88. Decota Electric was paid $1,295.30 and Kiger Electric was paid $1,766.84 to make repairs to the treatment plant. Tilmon said he was in discussions with the city insurance company to see if those damages were covered by the insurance.
A natural gas leak has led to some large bills from Atmos Energy to the city over the past few months. Tilmon said the city tried to negotiate on the amount owed to Atmos, but the company "told us we owe it." He said the company still owed $37,000 which Atmos officials would allow the city to repay "spread out over a 12-month period." Tilmon said he did not know the exact amount the leak cost the city, though it was substantial. He told the aldermen he would also submit that to the insurance company.
"Hopefully, insurance will help pay the cost," said Mekan.
The City of Bernie buys natural gas from Atmos at a contract rate, and then sells it to residents of the city.
Rebecca Kester addressed the board about problems with vehicles going to fast on Medler Street near the intersection of Pointer Avenue. She said there were small children in that neighborhood as well as some elderly residents. She said she would like to see the Medler Street/Pointer Avenue intersection turned into a four-way stop, which would require putting stop signs on Medler Street. That would slow motorists down, she said.
Tilmon told her it would take a city ordinance to change the intersection to a four-way stop, and that would take time. Gage said he agreed that there was a problem with motorists going to fast on that street. He made a motion to proceed with an ordinance to make the intersection a four-way stop, and it was seconded by Young. It passed by a 6-0 vote.
Tiimon asked City Attorney Robin Northern to prepare an ordinance to that effect so it could be presented to the board at the next meeting.
Gage asked if any progress had been made on clearing trees and debris from the old landfill. He noted that the city had received a letter from the Department of Natural Resources requiring this to be done or face possible fines.
Mekan said he spoke with the individual who maintains the road at the landfill, but he told me "it was too big of an operation for him to handle." Mekan proposed that the city allow people to come in and cut the trees and keep the firewood for personal use.
"As long as they stack the limbs and debris so that it is neat and orderly," said Young. "I'd say let them have the wood."
Jackson said he knew someone that might be interested, and he would contact them.
"Just let Jeff know someone is going to be going to cut the trees," responded Mekan.
In the forum for aldermen, Mekan said the old Case tractor owned by the city "bit the dust." He said it was beyond repair, and the city needed to look at replacing it. He said the tractor is used for bushhogging.
"It doesn't have to be right now, but at some point in time we need to look at buying a used tractor," said Mekan.
Young asked what horsepower was needed. Dean said the old tractor was a 48 hp he thought. No action was taken.
Mekan said a city mower was in need of repairs. He said the estimated cost of repairs was $950. He said the repairs should come from funds for the park. There was some discussion about whether there was enough money in the Parks and Recreation Department to pay for the repairs. The department had to pay a portion of the cost of constructing a new pavilion that was not covered by insurance. The pavilion was destroyed by arson. The aldermen agreed that the mower had to be fixed, and there should be sufficient funds in the park maintenance budget.
Lastly, Mekan said the city faced a decision about trash pickup.
"Either we look at getting a new compactor truck, or put trash pickup out for bids," said Mekan.
He said the compactor on the solid waste truck had been repaired so many times, it was now beyond repair. He noted it would cost around $70,000 to buy a new compactor for the truck, and there was only $38,298 in the truck replacement fund.
"Can the old compactor be refurbished?" asked Gage.
"No," responded Mekan.
After some discussion, the aldermen asked Dean to get an estimate on what it would cost to repair the compactor. Dean told the board that the city could rent a compactor truck while the old truck was being repaired.