BY NEAL A. Johnson
At their Sept. 14 meeting, Meta aldermen took another step toward park improvements, specifically at the restroom facilities and …
BY NEAL A. Johnson
At their Sept. 14 meeting, Meta aldermen took another step toward park improvements, specifically at the restroom facilities and bleachers.
Alderman Otto Wankum has led maintenance efforts and suggested that changing to an automatic hand dryer in the restrooms would be a good move.
“The paper towel dispensers are done,” he said, noting they need to be replaced unless an alternative solution is considered. “I think if we put air dryers in there, we’ll save a bit of time of cleaning. You know, all that paper winds up on the floor, and people step on it. And then it gets matted down over here, matted down over there. And then it really looks like crap.”
Complaints have been made in recent months about the cleanliness of the facilities. Wankum said it’s been a challenge, especially making sure people who reserve the park have clean restrooms.
Typically, maintenance crews clean the restrooms on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Wankum added that he has seen the clean bathroom become a mess in short order, with paper and mud on the floor right after it was cleaned.
“I think we owe it to the people who rent the place to have a clean bathroom,” he said. “But we have to control access to it because I don’t know how many people a day stop in there.”
Locking the doors may be inconvenient for some as people driving through town use the restrooms several times a day. In many cases, bikers stop to stretch at the park and use the facilities.
However, Wankum said locking the doors is the only way to control cleanliness before a rental period begins.
Aldermen considered two hand-dryer units from Menards because the city has a rebate to use.
They chose the Road Sovereign Silver 110V unit at a cost of $186.01 each. These dryers will be hard-wired to the wall with an outlet put in place for other needs, including tools to clean out the restrooms.
A less-expensive plastic model was dismissed as less reliable in the long run compared to the stainless-steel unit.
“I think we need to go with a steel one because the plastic one, intentionally or unintentionally, can be broken pretty easily,” said Wankum. “I don’t know this for a fact, but I think we’ll probably spend less doing this than what we do on paper towels.”
Aldermen also agreed to purchase epoxy flooring to give the facilities a fresh look. The added benefit is easier cleaning.
Wankum suggested the city purchase a shop-vac to clean up after the restrooms are power-washed. In the interim, he offered to donate an older unit from his car-detailing business that works, though he is not sure for how long.
City Clerk Deidra Buechter said she believes the rebate at Menards is enough to pay for the dryers, flooring, and a new shop vac.
Other projects at the park include refurbishing picnic tables and benches and repairing the bleachers. Wankum said everything needs to be repainted as well.
He suggested removing a few tables and benches at a time to replace broken or splintered boards and repainting them.
With winter approaching, the hope is to complete some of these projects before cold weather arrives.
Sommerer noted that the city has $1,346.98 in donations that can be used for park projects, and the park budget has a balance of $15,000.
In other business, aldermen took no action on a follow-up request from resident Jeff Tellman, who asked the city to waive $47.24 of his $99.37 bill.
In an email to Mayor Emily Sommerer, Tellman asked how he could have a bill for July since the water was shut off.
Buechter explained that Tellman came into the office in late May or early June, saying he should not have to pay his entire bill because of a leak.
Tellman paid that bill, Buechter noted, and June’s bill was refunded, along with a $20 late fee. The $60 reconnect fee was also waived.
Bills sent out around the first of August showed water usage, and Buechter said the bill of $99.37 was higher because of the leak.
City Attorney Nathan Nickolaus acknowledged that Tellman agreed to pay the minimum but noted it’s not the city’s fault. “We still supplied the water,” he added. “You know, whether it went out on the ground or into his house doesn’t really make a difference to us. We still provided the water, and I don’t see how the city’s done anything wrong here.”
Nickolaus likened it to a leaky or running toilet. “If their bill went up way high, we wouldn’t reimburse them for that,” he added. “You guys can do what you want if you feel sorry for the guy, but I don’t see that the city is legally responsible for it.”
One of the issues is whether Tellman damaged the valve in his attempt to turn off the water in the pit.
Buechter pointed out that under the law, only authorized personnel are legally allowed to get into the pit or touch the equipment.
Another issue is the length of time it took the city to replace the valve.
Alderman Steve Sherrell made a motion to accept Tellman’s offer and waive the additional fees but it died for lack of a second.
Instead, Nickolaus will send a letter explaining the city’s position.
* Treasurer Mary Plassmeyer rescinded her resignation for Sept. 25, offering instead to stay until Nov. 30 so that the office will be covered while Buechter is on maternity leave.
Aldermen agreed to continue advertising for a treasurer.
* Aldermen agreed to a proposal from Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) to serve as the grant administrator for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) drinking water project. Buechter noted this would be especially helpful since new federal guidelines now require a new procurement process that must be followed to be eligible for grants.
* The board also approved an annual technical-assistance contract with MRPC for help with grants. This year, aldermen went with prime membership for $390, which includes 27 hours of assistance.
Alderman Ivie Helton noted that in the past, the city had surpassed its allotment of hours with basic membership. “An extra $90 for 12 more service hours seems like a pretty good deal,” she added.
* MRPC also alerted the city to a potential grant to help with park and trail improvements. The Cover Regional Celebration of Public Spaces grant program will provide up to $25,000.
“So, we could use this for either one of our parks,” said Buechter. “If we wanted to apply for a grant, we can maybe get some new bleachers, or we can get benches for the new park. We can do whatever you guys choose to do with that money.”
Aldermen agreed it was a good idea but want more information regarding grant specifics, mainly whether there is a match requirement. Buechter will research the grant and provide an update next month.
* Buechter said that over the last month Bartlett & West worked with Gilmore and Bell to proceed with the bond process following approval by voters in August.
* The State Revolving Fund (SRF) application was submitted.
* Buechter told aldermen that all water systems in the United States are required to have a lead service line inventory by 2024. Applications for drinking water and lead service inventory were submitted in July. “Now we just have to wait and find out,” she said, noting the city should be notified by mid-October.
* With the development of a new water system, Buechter noted that the current code needs to be updated. One specific issue she noted is that when a public water system becomes available, customers are required to connect and must physically disconnect from existing private systems (wells) in accordance with the city’s cross-connection prevention ordinance. “The well shall be properly plugged in accordance with guidelines established by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Division of Geology and Land Survey, unless the owner wants to keep it functional for uses other than providing drinking water,” she added. “A well may only be kept if it remains physically disconnected from the public water supply distribution system, has a functional pump connected to an electrical service, and is pumped at least once in a 12-month period.”
Nickolaus said this is pretty typical and based on two points. One is that public water systems reduce the risk of typhoid, typhus, and other things that travel through the water. “Public water has eliminated a lot of those diseases,” he added.
The other reason is economics. “If you allow people to opt out of it, then it’s more expensive for everybody else,” Nickolaus said. “You have to have everybody in or everybody out.”
* Aldermen approved a request from the Meta Fire and Rescue Auxiliary to close the 300 block of Olive Street during an outdoor dance on Friday, Oct. 21, from 8-11 p.m. at the Citizens Civic League pavilion. The purpose of the event is to raise funds to support Meta Fire and Rescue volunteers and the fire station.
* A project to install holiday decorations will include ensuring the eight poles in town are in good shape electrically. Helton’s father, Kevin Wills, volunteered to handle the electrical work, and aldermen are considering what kind of decorations will be purchased. Up to $1,000 was approved for the project.
* Meta recorded a total of $5,548.65 in water sales, with $1,179.98 collected for trash service, $220 in late fees, and $177.46 collected in sales tax. Total charges were $7,126.09, with a previous balance of $1,306.26. Payments were received in the amount of $6,933.01, leaving a balance due of $1,499.34.
* Buechter reported that 470,872 gallons of water were pumped during July, with 333,508 gallons sold, 700 gallons used by the fire department, and 30,000 gallons flushed, leaving 106,664 gallons of water lost, or 22.65%.
* Chief Water Operator Trevor Plemmons was unable to attend due to illness but Buechter said he took special samples last month for disinfection byproduct, which comes from using chlorine. These samples and the regular monthly test showed no issues with the water system.
* In her regular monthly financial report, Plassmeyer noted income/deposits totaled $43,334.32 and debits of $10,339.12 for a balance on hand as of Aug. 31 totaling $380,549.59; the money market balance was $140,558.91, and certificates of deposit totaling $54,899.16 and $125,334.31, give the city total funds on hand of $701,341.97. Checks written last month totaled $16,231.39.
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