Highlights from the New Melle Board of Aldermen Meeting and Public Hearing Sept. 19

By Dianne Sudbrock

The New Melle Board of Aldermen held a Public Hearing and regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at City Hall. Present were Mayor Richard West, Aldermen Nik Bradley, Gary Schneider, Don Hendrich and Janet Karrenbrock, plus the City Engineer, City Attorney and City Clerk.

There were no comments during the Public Hearing, which was held for the purpose of setting the tax rate for real and personal property for the 2017 tax year.

Once the hearing closed, the regular meeting was called to order.

  • In Open Forum, Jim Baker, owner of the car wash on Hwy. Z, expressed concerns about run off from a neighboring property causing dirt and residue to accumulate on his paved lot. Mayor West will review the situation and try to initiate a resolution.
  • Mayor West commented on how much he learned at the Missouri Municipal League (MML) Conference that the City Clerk and he attended last week. West suggested the city budget money for some of the aldermen to try to attend next year because he felt the event was very beneficial.
  • Alderwoman Karrenbrock mentioned that an old electric line (that Ameren suspected was put up illegally many years ago) had fallen across Mill Street last week. Since Ameren was short staffed due to hurricane Irma and couldn’t address it in a timely manner, Lamping Electric was hired to remove it.

In the Finance Report:

  • The city clerk is working through the procedures and paperwork required to turn about $8,000 in unclaimed municipal court bonds over to the state. The city would like the money off their books by year end.
  • The 2015 Audit is complete. The only recommendations were two items that were noted in the 2014 audit completed earlier this year: more detailed explanations of expenditures on credit card receipts; and better documentation of journal entries. Both recommendations have already been put into practice.

Engineering Report:

  • The Lassiters have been given approval to start construction of an entrance road to their property at the end of Schutzen Street. Permission to begin further construction is pending approval of water and sewer extensions from PWSD#2.
  • Sidewalk project along Hwy. D and Z: MoDOT has approved the bid and awarded the contract to Karrenbrock Construction. A pre-construction meeting is expected in 2-3 weeks and work will begin at some point after that.
  • Cochran Engineering provided a cost estimate to redirect storm water that is running onto private property near the intersection of Schutzen and Peter Streets. The aldermen decided to put the project out for bid.

Building Report:

Mayor West mentioned that P&Z is in the process of reviewing the city’s building codes. He said he learned at the MML conference that government entities at all levels are grappling with the pros and cons of establishing “greener” building codes, weighing environmental concerns vs. increased construction costs.

Introduction of Ordinances:

  • Bill 416 was approved as ordinance 402, establishing the annual rate of tax levy for the 2017 tax year at $.4891 per $100 assessed valuation (down from $.4916 in 2016).
  • Bill 417 was approved as ordinance 403, dissolving the Municipal Court for the City of New Melle. Mayor West explained that the City had previously dissolved the municipal court after dissolving the police department; however, several months ago the City had discussed reinstating the Municipal Court with the intention of using it as a mechanism to enforce property code violations. A few weeks ago, the City Clerk was notified by OSCA (Office of State's Court Administrators) that New Melle did not comply with the Missouri Supreme Court's Rules and Operating Orders for Municipal Courts.  OSCA contacted St. Charles County Circuit Judge Rick Zerr, who on Sept. 7 notified the city that it had until Sept. 30 to either come into full compliance or provide appropriate documentation that the court had disbanded. Mayor West and the City Clerk attended a session conducted by two Circuit Court judges at the MML Conference last week regarding the 10 "Minimum Operating Standards" for Municipal Courts.  They learned that the Court Clerk would have to be a separate position, available 30 hours per week, and could not be the same person as a police clerk or prosecutor's clerk and that the city could not divide traffic cases from other violations (i.e. traffic cases could not be tried in St. Charles County Court and other cases tried in New Melle Municipal Court.) Since the City has not filed a case in its Municipal Court in over three years and could not effectively comply with all 10 rules, it was necessary to dissolve the municipal court.

Old Business:

  • A draft ordinance amending section 405.325 of the municipal codes to allow accessory buildings to be erected without a principal residence on parcels of 10 acres or more in agricultural zoning districts was approved. A public hearing on the matter will be scheduled for October 10, 2017.
  • Update on City Purchasing Property: The mayor shared information he had learned about financing options and restrictions in the event the city entered into an agreement to purchase property; and asked whether or not the city would need an appraisal before entering into any negotiations. Attorney Martin said a bank would require an appraisal before loaning any funds, therefore an upfront appraisal wouldn’t necessarily be required.
  • Mayor West shared a list of bills he had approved for payment from the escrow fund for the Quarry Wine Garden.

New Business:

  • 2017 New Melle Fall Festival/Pumpkin Glow on Friday, Oct. 27th. The Board voted to provide $250 to NMSR to help sponsor the event.
  • Holiday Street Light Decorations: Mayor West asked for input on what type of holiday decorations should be purchased. He was asked to see if Ameren would provide hookups on more poles so that additional decorations could be purchased to fill in gaps.          
  • New Melle Country Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration Nov. 25, 2017 – The city will look into providing cookies as it did last year.

The next regular meeting of the Board of Aldermen should be Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.