The regular meeting of Southwest City's board of alderman bubbled with a discussion of proposed water rate increases on Tuesday.
City Clerk Krystal Austen presented council members with multiple tables and charts detailing the possible approaches. She said that Pat O'Bryant with Anderson Engineering recommended the city remove the discount given to commercial customers and charge every customer the residential rate.
The council spoke about removing the discount given to businesses and continuing the commercial rate with non-profits such as churches and the school.
Austen noted that, with the exception of the school, most non-profits don't use enough water to be charged more than the base rate.
"The best path back to repayment is making the most money without being insensitive," said Alderman Steven Golden. He went on to say that prices will go up with time and the only thing the council can affect is the amount of money that is being repaid to the loan for utility improvements.
Alderman Amber Killion moved to charge the residential rate across the board, using a three-step increase, with the school retaining the discounted commercial rate.
The new rate will be as follows: $12 for the first 1,000 gallons and $4.50 for each 1,000 gallons following.
Fire Chief Shane Clark reported that, since the last meeting, the department conducted a fire safety program for pre-K, kindergarten and first graders. The department has also responded to three medical calls, one motor vehicle accident and one fire alarm, extinguished a vehicle fire and a grass fire, assisted with a fuel spill, conducted traffic control twice and provided assistance to a neighboring agency once.
Police Chief Bud Gow reported, since the last meeting, the department has issued 15 tickets, assisted with two lock-outs and provided assistance to neighboring agencies twice.
Gow informed the council that the primary patrol vehicle needs a new radiator and the newest patrol vehicle hasn't been secured yet. He explained that J&W Auto is holding the vehicle but the USDA portion of the funds hasn't been transferred into the account yet. He said that Cody Greene with the USDA estimates the money will be received within a week.
Gow went on to ask the council to front $6,000 to complete the purchase of the vehicle, which will then be reimbursed when the USDA grant money is deposited.
Alderman Killion moved to approve the $6,000 transfer, allow Austen to get a cashier's check in the amount of $16,500 to purchase the vehicle, and then to transfer the $6,000 back into General Fund when it's received.
Public Works Director Shane Clark reported the street department has been busy catching at-large animals, and the wastewater department recently hosted a field trip to the treatment plant and taught students how municipal water is cleaned and treated.
City Clerk Austen said she has been preparing FY2020 budgets and completing FEMA and SEMA paperwork in regard to the previous flooding.
Austen informed the council that the Commercial Club has plans to host a drive-through Trunk or Treat on Halloween night this year. The route will begin on Academy Street, continue down School Street and end on Cherokee Street. Hot dogs and soda will be distributed at the end of Cherokee. Personal protective equipment is recommended.
Austen and Gow also spoke about altering the way vendor licenses are granted. Currently, licenses are approved through the council, which can create a delay in response of up to two weeks and force the city to miss out on potential income.
Austen and Gow suggested they be allowed to review, approve and sign vendor licenses. Gow will ensure that the vendor license is compliant with ordinances and laws, and Austen will keep the council up-to-date on licenses issued.
"It will open the city up more," Mayor Blake said. "It's always good when someone stops on Main Street."
Alderman Killion moved to amend the current ordinance to allow Austen and Gow to grant vendor licenses.
In other business, the council:
• Granted an add-on permit to Jose Rosiles of 704 N. Main St. for the addition of two porches on his property;
• Approved a purchase request for pre-stamped envelopes and a receipt book in the amount of $1,364.95;
• Accepted the Letter of Conditions from the USDA and authorized Anderson Engineering to proceed with the design of the updated water system;
• Seated Steven Golden as the new West Ward Alderman;
• Spoke with Jason Fitzgerald of CARDS Recycling;
• Reviewed FY2020 budgets;
• Paid bills in the amount of $28,328.07.