After certifying the 2018 election results, three City of Vandalia Aldermen and the incumbent mayor took their oaths of office near the beginning of the City of Vandalia’s meeting held last Tuesday.
Temporary City Clerk Pam Perkins administered the oaths to Ralph Barnes (Ward I), Janet Turner (Ward II), John Weiser (Ward III), and Mayor Ralph Kuda.
Aldermen then unanimously agreed to elect Debbie Hopke as Mayor Pro-Tem.
Concerns for the Vandalia Area Fair
During the Citizens to be Heard portion of the meeting, Vandalia Area Fair Board President Nancy Jennings told the city council that the Fair is struggling to put on events every year due to low attendance and other issues.
“We’re struggling to have a Fair,” Jennings told the council.
She noted how the Fair has been unable to afford a carnival for the past few years.
She talked about the property that has hosted the Fair for a majority of the years since 1993.
“Our goal is to provide something for the community that they hadn’t seen every year and financially we can’t do it,” Jennings said.
Jennings noted the many changes the Fair has made in cutting back the number of days, changes in entertainment due to finances, among other things.
“And if we can’t afford the events, the people are not going to come,” she said.
She also talked about the hard work of the current Fair board members and their dedication to work with the Fair through the years.
“We would love to have some help somewhere,” Jennings noted. “If anyone has any suggestions or if the city has something they can do to help us out so that we can continue.”
Fair Board member
Bob Giltner said even help with utilities would be a big help due to the Fairgrounds being used for community service events like AA meetings, weddings, and more.
Giltner talked about the recent success of Fish Frys, which are not only fundraisers, but offer a community service to residents.
Fair Board member Larry Nation said utility bills were really hurting the Fair.
City Administrator Berry said he would be glad to meet with the Fair Board to discuss options.
Alderman Hopke noted the matter could be placed on the 2018 Goals to help find programs to help the Fair board with funding.
Mayor Kuda, while noting that if the city starts helping one entity others will want help too, he also noted the importance of the Fair’s service to the community, which has taken place since 1904.
Alderman Hopke talked about the several positive comments she’s received on the agreement in place currently with the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office and the Vandalia Police Department.
Alderman Weiser asked her to address rumors involving Alderman Hopke possibly wanting to “do away” with Vandalia’s Police Department. He said he didn’t think it was likely true.
Alderman Hopke cleared the record and said she never has said that.
City Administrator Berry told the group about the chlorine conversion and hydrant flushing underway.
Alderman Turner stated she would like the license office to be discussed further.
Alderman Teresa Wenzel talked about the Governance Conference she attended in Jefferson City earlier in the day.
Assist MoDOT with acquiring sidewalk easements
Aldermen approved for the city to assist MoDOT in acquiring sidewalk easement for various curb ramps along Highway 54, Route F, and Route W.
City Administrator Berry advised that MoDOT will issue credits for $500 per easement for 22 easements.
If all 22 easements are acquired, MoDOT will issue the city $11,000 in credits.
Street Superintendent Dave Hamby said he will get cost estimates for chip sealing the shoulders along Highway 54 through town.
The project was scheduled for resurfacing in 2018. Any shoulder work that the city has MoDOT do, the credits will be deducted from the cost.
Deed of Trust & Errors and Omissions Agreement
Aldermen approved the signing of the Deed Trust & Errors Omissions Agreement between the City of Vandalia and Hannibal National Bank for property at 309 S. Main St. for $800,000. This is where the YMCA is being built.
Alderman Hopke removed herself from the discussion due to the fact she is a member of the Vandalia Recreation Board.
No action was taken in regards to the Building Demolition Program Policy. Alderman Weiser stated, according to meeting minutes, that the Demolition Program was a trial program that didn’t do well and he thought other options should be explored and possibly see if there were any grants available. He also stated the public needed to be informed about the program. City Administrator Berry spoke reference criteria that needed to be met to be eligible.
A lot of discussion was held on older buildings and the amount of money currently spent in tearing down buildings. Some citizens also spoke out during the meeting as they had concerns on what derelict houses have on property values and how they may increase the challenge of selling homes in Vandalia.
The Semi-Annual Financial Report was approved and set for publication for September 1, 2017-February 28, 2018.
Linda Hicks spoke to the board during the Citizens to be Heard portion of the meeting discussing concerns on flooding around her neighborhood.
She showed pictures to the board of flooding around her home from a bout 10 years ago to the recent rain storm that hit the area.
Hamby said crews are working on replacing culverts around town to help with the drainage issues.
City Administrator Berry recognized Alderman Dempsey Dixon and those in attendance welcomed him to the meeting.
The auditing firm, Dennis G. Koch, CPA, was recommended and approved unanimously.
The Accounts Payable for March 2018 was approved along with minutes from the March 13 meeting.
A Goals Work Session was held after the regular meeting.
Aldermen voted to table an agreement with Oak Street Waterline Design for professional services.
The group has recently merged with the city’s current engineering firm, McClure Engineering.
The city wasn’t happy with McClure’s work and that is why the city was searching for other firms.
City Administrator Berry will bring a recommendation of a new firm at the next meeting.