By Woodrow Polston
Water/Wastewater Superintendent Dave Sanders informed the Vandalia City Council that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has increased the Primacy Fee, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2022. The fee is based on the number of customers and the size of the service meters. The current fee has been in place since 2006. The fee is added to the June utility bill and is collected in July of each year. He stated that the current fee is $3 per residential customer. Next year’s fee will be prorated to $4.52 per residential customer. After 2022, the primacy fee will be set at $5.28 resulting in a total increase of $2.28 per residential customer. This primacy fee pays for training of the department’s employees and for water testing.
“This fee will keep us governed by DNR instead of the EPA,” he said. There was no motion needed for this item.
City Administrator Darren Berry informed the council that when they discharge at the city’s lagoons, one of the effluent parameters that the city is required to monitor is ammonia. With each new permit, the effluent ammonia parameters have been reduced, making it more difficult to stay in compliance.
If we discharge during the summer months, there is a good chance that we will exceed the permitted ammonia limits, he noted.
“When this occurs, it puts us in violation of our permit,” said Berry. “A couple of the proven ways to reduce the amount of ammonia in a wastewater discharge is to reduce the amount of sludge in the lagoons and to aerate the lagoons. In 2010, we had 3 feet to 5 feet of sludge dredged out and land applied. This was done at the first cell which is approximately five acres in size. At that time, this helped us in meeting our ammonia limits and it put us back into compliance with DNR. Earlier this year, the city was issued a new wastewater permit with even lower ammonia limits. Again, with the lower limits, we are struggling with staying in compliance,” added Berry.
In April of this year, a representative from Missouri Rural Water Association came to the lagoons and tested the amount of sludge that was in the first cell. Surprisingly, there was only around 12 inches of sludge in the first cell. This was very good news since the last time the city had it dredged was 11 years ago.
Now that it is confirmed that we do not have a sludge problem, we turn our attention to aeration. The city’s current system was installed many years ago, when the women’s prison was built. At that time, the ammonia limits were much higher so the system did a good job in removing the required amount of ammonia, he explained.
“Now that the limits have tightened up and gotten smaller, we are again struggling to stay in compliance with our permit,” said Berry. “In order to constantly stay in compliance, we need a more efficient aeration system that will remove more ammonia. There are numerus aeration systems on the market today and the cost for these systems can be very expensive. When we had the Wastewater Treatment Upgrades Engineering Report completed by PSBA on December 2020, PSBA recommended an aeration system that was at a cost of $500,000. We looked into other options and received another proposal for a Nexom Aeration system. This system was at a cost of $489,000. The third option that we looked at is a Gen-Aer Airlift Aerator system at a cost of $52,500. In the 2021-22 budget, in the Sewer Surcharge Fund, we allocated $500,000 for Lagoon Dredging/ Upgrades. After discussing the different options for aeration, we feel the best option to go with is the Gen-Aer Airlift Aerator system for $52,500. This is the most cost-effective system, and we believe that this system will reduce the amount of ammonia needed to get us back in compliance. There will be some additional cost associated for the electrical hook up,” added Berry.
A motion was made to approve the agenda for December by Debbie Hopke, and seconded by Larry Shaw. All voted in favor. A motion to approve the November minutes was made by John Weiser and was seconded by Edna Wheeler. A motion to approve accounts payable for November was made by Debbie Hopke and seconded by John Weiser.
Citizens to be heard were Patricia Kraft, who stated that she would like to see local residents get awarded for doing good things for the city. Presiding Audrain County Commissioner Alan Winders introduced Leslie Meyer, the new eastern district commissioner to the council. Winders expressed that he is glad to have the commissioners back to three.
“It is good to have two commissioners that know the eastern part of the county, with Meyers living in Benton City,” said Winders. “Meyers has a background in agriculture, which is a good thing to have in this area,” he added.
Berry informed the council that when the Van-Far School District closed during the COVID pandemic, he was contacted by the Technology Coordinator Tony Lower. He asked if he could install four to five hot spots in different locations around town. He requested that they be set up on city owned properties. This would give the students an opportunity to access the internet and would help them to stay current with their schoolwork.
The request was granted. Because the temporary hot spots were such a success, it has been requested to approve a permanent hot spot be installed on the south side of the Vandalia Fire Station. With this request, the school is also requesting to add cameras be installed so the school can monitor the busses that are parked in the bus parking lot. If passed, the school board will discuss further action on Thursday at their next board meeting. There will be no cost to the city. Discussion was had and Weiser motioned to have Van-Far School District install a permanent hot spot with cameras on top of the Fire Station. Alderman Hopke seconded the motion which carried unanimously.
Resolution approving the commitment of local match for Community Development Block Grant Application in the amount of $36,445. was discussed. City Clerk Brandie Gay informed the council that the Department of Economic Development, Community Development Block Grant has grants funds available that provide entities with comprehensive and flexible resources to address a wide variety of local economic development needs.
The city intends to apply for the Community Development Block Grant funds for the demolition of 32 vacant and dilapidated structures within the city limits of Vandalia. The structures consist of residential and commercial properties. The city will contribute $3,700 in in-kind, $36,445 in cash match and the remaining balance will be requested from CDBG funds of approximately $190,815.00. After some discussion, Weiser motioned to approve the local match for the CDBG Grant in the amount of $36,445 in cash. Hopke seconded the motion which carried unanimously.
Berry informed the council now that the City of Vandalia contracts law enforcement services with the Audrain County Sheriff’s Department, the changes to section 245 of the city code are being recommended. If approved some of the changes will replace the wording “Police Department” and “City Police Department” to “any law enforcement officer, or any official of the city, Code Enforcement Officer” and “Audrain County Sheriff’s Department.”
Shaw moved to hear the bill the first time. Weiser seconded the motion which carried unanimously. The bill was read the first time. Wenzel moved that the first reading of the bill be approved. The motion was seconded by Turner and the votes were all in favor. Weiser moved that the second reading of the bill be heard. The motion was seconded by Shaw, which carried unanimously. The bill was read the second time. Weiser moved that the second reading of the bill be approved. The motion was second by Hopke, and the votes were all in favor. The bill was duly passed and approved, and the same shall hereafter be known as Ordinance No. 21-1217.
The sidewalk replacement project at the corner of Rt. 54 and Main Street has been approved by MoDOT and the project will be going out for bid. At 6:12 p.m., Alderman Hopke made a motion to adjourn.
The Board of Aldermen of the City of Vandalia met on Tuesday, Dec.14, 2021, at 5:30 p.m. in regular session. Those present at the meeting were: Aldermen Edna Wheeler, Larry Shaw, Teresa Wenzel, Debbie Hopke, John Weiser and Janet Turner; Mayor Ralph Kuda; City Administrator Darren Berry; City Clerk Brandie Gay; Deputy City Administrator JoAnna Borgmeyer; Utilities Superintendent Aaron Rentfro; Water/Wastewater Superintendent Dave Sanders; and Public Works Superintendent LeRoy Schlueter.