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Utility deposit policy discussed at meeting

Posted on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 8:41 am

Several Vandalia landlords and residents packed the Lange Building last week for the City of Vandalia’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

Several Vandalia landlords and residents packed the Lange Building last week for the City of Vandalia’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

After expressing concerns last month on changes approved in November in regards to the City of Vandalia’s utility deposit policy, landlords gave the city a proposed policy that they felt would be best for the city.
The proposed policy would include a $300 utility deposit, a two strikes and out structure, along with a need for documentation (city and landlords working together) showing head of household from the landowner (lease, contract, etc.).
One landlord said he was up for aldermen to make a suggestion on the recommended changes.
“I wish you guys could reconsider that,” he said.
One alderman said hehad more people thank him for the way the policy was passed than complaints.
Alderman Ron Stallcup said he could understand why the property owners were upset and talked through a scenario.
“My main concern is for the citizens not to be saddled with the debt created by somebody else,” he added.
He noted that after the two strikes in the proposal, responsibility would then go to the property owner.
Alderman Dempsey Dixon requested to have the utility policy discussion on the agenda so the Board of Aldermen could further discuss the November change to the policy at last week’s meeting.
Aldermen, minus an opposing vote from alderman Larry Holt, moved to refer the matter to city staff for review.
“We just appreciate you taking the consideration on our part,” Bob Giltner said.
In related news, the board approved some annual “housekeeping” as it wrote off $34,515,58 in utility bills. The move does not affect the city’s ability to collect on the account and doesn’t affect the intent to collect.
Citizens voice
concerns about police
Two local residents voiced their concerns in relation to the Vandalia Police Department.
Wayne Atkinson addressed the board referencing his grandson and noted several incidents of what some could describe as “harassment.”
Spare Time Bowl & Grill owner Michael Soey noted similar concerns from several of his customers who have been getting pulled over after leaving the bowling alley in the evening hours for things not considered to be important.
Soey said, as a responsible business owner, he just hopes the process gets better moving forward.
“We’re not going to have anybody in Vandalia harassed,” said Mayor Ralph Kuda, Jr. “I know there’s been a lot of complaints. Believe or not, we’re trying to do better. We’re going to do better but right now, it’s not going to happen in a week…If you have a problem, please call the chief and please call City Hall.”
Brush Handling
Street Superintendent Dave Hamby told the group that after a year of curbside brush collection, the staff is recommending it be discontinued.
The goal is for the drop-off to be established with new rules using the fee on the utility bills to off-set the costs of operation of the drop off site.
Rules for brush and limb drop off are:
• Limbs and brush only. Limbs must be less than six inches in diameter.
• Used by Vandalia residents only. Contractors and non-residents can not drop limbs and brush at the drop off site.
• Daylight hours for drop-off only.
Aldermen approved the change unanimously.
Tank Project Update
Chief Water Plant Operator Darren Berry said that during the recent bidding process, the staff learned it could save money by not fully shrouding the tank when it is blasted and painted.
Additional procedures could change to save money and labor. An addendum was then sent to all contractors to allow this procedure and gave them the option to change their bids if they so choose.
In negotiating with the low bidder, it was reportedly discovered that shrouding is not a state requirement but not doing it could increase the chance of run-off and potentially put the city in violation.
There was also another type of paint and priming system discovered that could give the same longevity for a lower price than was presented in the bid.
The bid needs to be changed in the area of the mixing system going in the tank.
Aldermen then approved the staff’s suggestion to reject and re-bid the project so contractors can get a better idea of what is required.
Miscellaneous
The issue of the “Use Tax” was revisited.
It was noted that neither Audrain County nor the City of Mexico will be putting the issue on their April ballot.
So no proposal was prepared to be placed on the April ballot for the City of Vandalia.
In regards to a hazard mitigation five year update, it was noted it is necessary when any entity applies for grants and funding.
A first update, which includes six chapters and many pages, was approved as Resolution No. 15-01.
The plan was first prepared in 2006 by Talley Consultants. It was prepared and paid for by FEMA through services contracted  through the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments.