During the Citizens to be Heard portion of last week’s City of Vandalia Board of Alderman meeting, Larry Peery addressed the city council in regards to Mayor Ralph Kuda’s appointment of three people to help with the cleanup and demolition program.
He expressed his feeling is that the city should not have let houses get the shape that they currently are in.
When discussion continued later as part of the agenda, Mayor Kuda first reminded those in attendance that the board has had discussions at past meetings regarding reimbursement to property owners who demolish and clean up property.
Though some folks are currently cleaning up things on their own, a proposed plan is in the works to allow citizens to apply for reimbursement.
If approved, when receipts are showing the amount paid for demolition and clean-up, the property owner would be reimbursed 40% of their costs or up to $2,000.
A sample application to sign-up for the program was presented.
Estimated costs included contractor, demolition, and dumpster fees.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of people signed up,” Mayor Kuda noted.
He said the committee will help but the Fire Chief would be the one needing to condemn the structures.
Peery said the city council should be the body ordering structures to be demolished and not the committee.
Alderman John Weiser noted some needs for clarification on the sample application.
No official action was needed as it was for discussion only.
Citizens to be Heard
Patty Kraft noted a cat program being held in Columbia and that a similar program will take place in Audrain County in January.
Tom Trabue, of THHinc McClure Engineering, opened by thanking the city for the confidence shown in doing business with their company and complimented the group on the staff they’ve worked with.
He also noted that their own Tom Wells has recently retired from their organization. The firm wants to assure the city that they will continue to get the level of service they have provided in the past.
Peery discussed the demolition program, as noted above in the agenda discussion.
For the Record…
Alderman Doug Bontz presented a “For the Record” item, which he read to the group.
It appears as follows:
“It is apparent that city administration and representation has failed to provide the past and present needs of the Vandalia Police Department, seriously jeopardizing the safety and welfare of citizens and police. It is with much thought and anxiety that I request an internal investigation and possible hearing to determine the activity that has prevented city officials from filling the position of Police Chief in more than a year and to determine why Vandalia cannot retain police officers. I am formally requesting that if need be, the City Administrator, Board of Aldermen, Mayor, City Attorney, or Municipal Judge or other appointed committee will hereto subpoena persons to testify under oath as to the accuracy of past events. This investigation must also collect information that will provide officials better knowledge about standardized police management and to help evaluate the present system of soliciting potential employees and the City’s hiring practices. The City Administrator will provide a comprehensive report to the Mayor and board and submit a summary to the press.”
He also asked for the item to be placed on the agenda for next month.
Online City Code
A copy of a proposal from Michael S. Perry, of Sullivan Publications/General Code for online codification services was provided.
It includes three different levels from the company with costs ranging from $695 to $1,196 yearly.
“This is to put the code book on the computer,” Mayor Kuda noted. “So if anybody in this world wants to look at it, that they can go on to our website and look at the code book of Vandalia.”
He said prices have gone down half of what it was four years ago.
Alderman Gabe Jennings noted how it’s important that the code book needs to be easy to understand.
Alderman Weiser asked how many residents may have come in to see the code book and he was told it was less than 10 a year.
Alderman Bontz said it may be easier for the city to do it themselves. He also said putting it online will help with the transparency for citizens.
No motions were made and the item was tabled.
Update on Elevated
Chief Water Plant Operator Darren Berry was out of town but Assistant City Administrator Debbie Hopke talked on his behalf.
An update was given on the status of the inspection and cleaning of the tower.
According to meeting minutes, as designated in the 2016-17 budget, the elevated water tower is on the schedule to be inspected and cleaned, if necessary. Quotes were obtained by three vendors, with the work awarded to Inland Marine.
Upon further review of the project, the vendor stated that the inspection process could be completed as stated, but if the tower needed to be cleaned, the tower would need to be filled completely full, which would cause extra pressure on our water lines, which could result in water line breaks.
Since the work was specified as “inspect and clean,” Inland Marine agreed not to move forward with the project. Future vendor quotes will be secured with inspection only.
By delaying this process, we are still within any applicable deadlines for the inspection process.
Minutes from the June 14 meeting were approved as well as the June Accounts Payable.
An ordinance was approved to authorize the mayor and other designated officials to enter into an employment contract with Chase D. Waggoner as new city administrator. It was passed unanimously with only Alderman Janet Turner not present for the meeting.
Alderman Bob Dunn said he contacted the highway department in reference to Main St. in Vandalia and Highway W.
He also shared concerns about the cement plant just outside city limits and the appearance it gives to those coming through town.