Freeburg trustees ban firearms at meetings

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 3/15/23

FREEBURG — Freeburg trustees approved an ordinance that makes it unlawful for anyone other than law enforcement to have a firearm at a village meeting. The ban on weapons extends to 30 minutes …

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Freeburg trustees ban firearms at meetings


FREEBURG — Freeburg trustees approved an ordinance that makes it unlawful for anyone other than law enforcement to have a firearm at a village meeting. The ban on weapons extends to 30 minutes before and after a meeting. Firearms can be kept in locked vehicles on city property during a meeting. The ordinance will go into effect immediately, and the city is not required to put up a sign.

Several citizens showed up at the meeting with concerns about the wording of the ordinance first presented last month that would have banned citizens from possessing firearms but allowed the village trustees to be armed during meetings.

“I’m glad that there were changes made,” resident Nick Hilkemeyer said. “I’m a big guy in believing in the Constitution and the last draft fell into the category of violating the Constitution. I was worried about down the road where board members are able to carry and not citizens coming in; they might be intimidated, so they might not come in and talk to you freely.”

Hilkemeyer said that he was not worried about anyone sitting on the board at this time but that anyone could be elected.

“We don’t know what their mindset is going to be,” Hilkemeyer said. “They might pull a gun on a citizen, and we don’t want that. We don’t really need any firearms in here unless it is law enforcement.”

Mayor Darryl Haller said that he did not realize all the implications in the first ordinance’s wording and was glad that community members brought their concerns to him.

Hilkemeyer agreed that some people find firearms intimidating, although it was a common occurrence for him in his line of work.

Trustee Shane Zimmer, the only official to vote against the ordinance last month, asked Mayor Haller if he would have law enforcement at every meeting from now on for safety.

“If we need to, we can,” Haller said.

“If we’re not going to be allowed any protections whatsoever while we’re sitting in the board meeting, then I would like to have a law enforcement officer at every meeting,” Zimmer said.

Hilkemeyer readily agreed.

Trustees will look at including the expense of a law enforcement officer present at every meeting in the budget for the new fiscal year.

In other business, trustees approved an increase to Public Works Director Doug Hamacher’s salary to $22.50 per hour, a $3 bump.

Hamacher completed all required training before being hired as Public Works Director. He has his CDL and certification in both wastewater and drinking water.

Water Clerk Cindy Struemph also received a raise of $25 per month, from $600 to $625.

Struemph and Hamacher thanked trustees for the raise.

There were no increases for trustees or Village Clerk Nicki Bax since she received a raise in January.

• Trustees approved a motion to allow Bartlett & West to reach out to Gilmore & Bell Bond Counsel to prepare bond documents to file for the Aug. 8 bond election. The village plans to use the bonds to fund the upcoming sewer project.

“If we want to get it on the ballot for the public, we have to get it going,” Haller said. “If we want a sewer system, we have to get it going.”

Residents must approve the bond issue so the village can apply for grant funding to help finance the sewer system treatment improvements. If the bond issue fails, the village will have to fund the project in its entirety.

“It’s one of those things that we have to do,” Zimmer said. “It’s gonna suck, but I don’t really see any other options.”

Haller explained that he had spoken to the sewer operator in Ashland about their system, and while it was set up well, it was too big and expensive for Freeburg.

The trustees only approved Gilmore & Bell Bonding to write up the bond documents. There will be a future vote on whether to put the issue on the ballot.

• Bartlett & West Project Engineer Kyle Landwehr is scheduled to come down on March 22 and work with Hamacher on the mapping system.

• Trustees spent most of the meeting working on the preliminary budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Street repairs were the biggest concern for trustees, with Mayor Haller wanting to ensure that the streets were sealed this year.

“If we’re seriously going to keep our streets from popping up we’re going to have to seal them,” Haller said. “It’s the cheapest part of anything. It’s like maintenance to your vehicle; if you don’t maintain it, you’re going to have problems.”

Zimmer added the village did not spend $100,000 earmarked for street repairs last year. He proposed adding that money to the budget for the new fiscal year so that a larger number of streets could be ground down and new asphalt added. Trustees tentatively put street repairs at $200,000. They also increased the sewer repairs line item to $40,000, so Hamacher could order three backup pumps.

Haller noted that it didn’t matter what the pumps cost; the village had to have backup pumps for emergencies.

The estimate for the tentative budget included expenses of $481,420 and estimated receipts of $331,420. The village would transfer $150,000 from reserves to balance the budget.

Haller instructed Hamacher to get some bids on sealing the city streets and estimates on the cost of asphalt by the ton and prices on the reserve pumps. He also asked Bax to rework the budget with the new numbers proposed by trustees.

Trustees will vote on the budget at the April meeting.

• Freeburg still has several businesses that have not paid the license fee of $10 per year.

Businesses that have not paid at the time of the meeting were: BK Tan Co LLC, Living the Dream Outdoor Properties, Pizza Kwik, Rogers Water Conditioning & Plumbing, Show Me Convenience, and UNFUG, LLC DBA Red Barn Butchering.

Business license renewal fees were due on Jan. 1, but Bax sent the business licenses with the renewal invoice. This has been the normal practice for the village for years.

Businesses will be contacted and their business license will be revoked if not paid.

Trustees agreed to send out notices for next year in October and not issue the license until the renewals have been paid. They also added a $5 late fee per month for every month that the payment is late.

• Resident Rick Sinkler is interested in selling fireworks in the village limits. He asked what he needed to do to be able to do that. Trustees could not think of ordinances restricting fireworks sales in the city limits and instructed Sinkler to purchase a village business license and file paperwork to collect taxes.

• Spring cleanup is scheduled for May 18. The event is for residential customers living inside the village limits.

Items to be picked up should be out on the curb by 5 a.m. Everything needs to be bagged or bundled and able to be handled by one person. The following items are restricted: hazardous waste, liquid waste, yard waste, car parts, appliances, and concrete.

Republic Services drivers will leave any items that are in question.

Questions regarding spring cleanup can be directed to Republic Services at (573) 635-8805.

• Former Public Works Director Todd Feeler had not kept his training up to date to be the backup sewer or water operator for Freeburg. Mayor Haller called him during the meeting, and he was non-committal to working with the village. Zimmer contacted Derrick McCubbin, who is interested in becoming the village’s backup operator under the same arrangement the trustees made with Feeler. McCubbin would get $60 per month plus vouchers to use to keep his certification and training up to date.

McCubbin will come to a meeting sometime this spring and talk to trustees in person.

• Freeburg is looking for part-time help for Hamacher. The village is looking for someone who is at least 18 years old and has a valid driver’s license. Hamacher will work up a job description for trustees to approve, and Bax will put an ad in the Unterrified Democrat and the Maries County Advocate. Trustees plan to pay up to $15 per hour.

• Lonnie Woodward had a water leak at his home and would like the city to reimburse him for the sewer fees. Struemph reported that his total sewer bill for the month was $47.20. The trustees approved a $40 credit for the water leak.

• Trustees approved the following expenses for the month: general revenue ($10,291.16), American Rescue Plan Act ($98.90), sewer ($581.74), and water ($231.29).

• Freeburg had the following account balances: purchasing ($271.92), sewer checking ($23,473.24), general revenue ($27,293 .16), general revenue money market ($419,748.24), sewer money market ($270,088.96), ARPA ($86,038.21), water revenue ($5,073.21), water replacement ($1,375.06), and water money market account ($733,067.68).

• The next meeting is scheduled for April 10 at 6:30 p.m.


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