Electric rate increase repealed at City Council meeting
At the Monday, August 7 meeting of the Cameron City Council, the Council had a full reading on an ordinance to repeal the electric rate increase in ordinance 5932 from 2016.
Zac Johnson came before the Council to discuss the ordinance and informed them the electric fund would be decreased by approximately $108,000 and resulting in a decrease of the general fund revenue of $7,000.
Johnson said increases are going to happen, they will continue to happen and rolling back this increase will make future increases more substantial.
Johnson said, “I cannot support passing this ordinance.”
Councilman L. Corey Sloan said he believes the process and methods in place to raise utility rates are important, because it is the tax payers money. Sloan mentioned again there will be a feasibility study in 2018, which will provide a better view of where the electric rates need to be and will help develop the process and tiered approach to present to tax payers to say, this is what we are paying, this is what we have to charge.
Councilman John Feighert told Johnson he appreciated him, then went on to state that he disagreed with Johnson’s assessment, saying, “If we hadn’t been spending money outside of the funds objective, keeping it in the actual electric fund, I don’t think we would be having this discussion, or this problem or this repeal.” Feighert went on to voice his support of the repeal based upon his opinion that the electric fund was not being used as it should be.
Councilman Dennis Clark said, “Our rates are among the lowest around here, they (city staff) have made significant improvements in the quality of service, certainly in my lifetime in this community. There is a lot of things that are improving life for the general population, that is our goal to elevate their lives, to improve it. I think it sets a bad precedent, I oppose it, I think, if we are going to do that, I think we should wait for the process, I think we should wait for the evaluation and see where it stands, then do it there.”
Councilman Ronnie Jack expressed he cannot support the repeal of the electric rates, “I think it has been proven we weren’t doing anything other than passing it on.”
Johnson said Jack is correct, even with the rate increase the city is not collecting as much as the increase was for the wholesale electric costs to the city.
The ordinance to repeal the electric rate was passed by a three to two vote with Mayor Darlene Breckenridge, Councilmen Feighert and Sloan in favor and Councilmen Clark and Jack opposed.
The costs of a new animal shelter were also a topic of debate among the Council members. All of the Council members expressed their support of the animal shelter, but the costs remain prohibitive for some members of the Council. Mayor Breckenridge and Councilman Feighert spoke up once again about finding ways to cut costs to build the shelter. Councilman Sloan suggested finding alternate ways to fund the shelter, including grass roots movements and fundraising projects. Councilman Jack spoke about the deplorable conditions in the current animal shelter and the work being done to fix some of the issues, but it is still not a solution to the ongoing problem.
The Council decided to form a group of city staff and concerned citizens to attempt to find ways to cut costs or find funding for a new animal shelter. They hope to have the committee in place with a time frame for a decision by the September Council meetings.
The Council entered public hearing for a budget workshop to discuss the upcoming year’s budget. According to City Manager Mark Gaugh, the budget for the next year is very similar to the last year’s budget, it is a couple million higher than last year due to increases in the transportation fund for projects being worked on.
Councilman Feighert had three points to make during the budget workshop, the first was mentioning it was discussed in the budget meeting that a process be put in place to make sure accountability for those asking for community projects funds was in place. His second point was to be sure that the city is exploring bids every couple years for insurance costs. And Feighert’s third point was to state be sure EDOC was going to meet the requirements set forth by the Council before receiving any monies from the city.
Councilman Sloan asked when the last time the fine and fee schedule in the courts was updated. Manager Gaugh said many of those fines and fees are set by the Missouri Supreme Court and the City does not have much room to change them. Sloan went on to recommend the City see if something can be done to increase some of those fines or fees due to pressures being placed on the City from the State Legislature.
During the workshop, a question was asked of Frank Buck what exactly was meant by the information about EDOC. The Council informed Buck that the budget has not changed, the monies for EDOC are in the budget, but the Council has not yet decided if they will spend them.
Other ordinances and resolutions before the Council which were passed unanimously included: an ordinance authorizing Alliance Water Resources for the continued management and operations at the wastewater facility; an ordinance authorizing a change in zoning on two city owned properties, one from R-2 Residential to C-2 Commercial and one from AG-1 agricultural to CM-P commercial; the annual ordinance to disclose conflicts of interest; a resolution authorizing an execution of a tolling agreement with T-Mobile allowing the city to collect back taxes; and a resolution to accept a proposal to upgrade life station #4.
An appointment proposal presented to the Council from the Cameron Industrial Authority to the IDA failed to pass. Councilman Sloan recused himself from the discussion and the vote due to a possible perceived conflict of interest. The debate with the remaining Council members failed to result in an appointment. Two members of the Council, Mayor Breckenridge and Councilman Feighert expressed their suggestion that the IDA consider interviewing both of the applicants to the position. There had been two applicants to the IDA, Quentin Lovejoy and Jack Randall. The IDA presented their request that Randall be appointed to the board. Mayor Breckridge and Councilman Feighert were opposed to Randall’s appointment; Councilman Clark and Jack were in favor. No appointment to the board was made.
At the end of the meeting Pete Ramsel with Greenfield Villas came before the City Council to update them on the Greenfield Townhomes project which hopes to acquire funding this year. The project has changed from family homes to senior housing. The proposal includes thirty-six senior units, single story, including laundry hook ups in the units. Ramsel asked for the support of the Council. The Council voted unanimously to support the project, a resolution should be on an upcoming Council agenda.
During the public participation, The Cameron Saddle Club came before the City Council to present a check back to the city for $1000, thanking them for the funds the city provided to them from the general project fund.
Frank Riley stepped before the Council to speak to them about the issues he has had with code enforcement and to ask about how to obtain a permit to have more than two dogs.
Councilman Sloan went on to ask Riley about some of the issues he has had with code enforcement and expressed the fact that he has had many complaints about the approach code enforcement officers have had with residents. Sloan said he realizes code enforcement has a difficult job, but it can be done professionally. Gaugh said city staff is looking into the complaints, but also said the city can only address the problems they are aware of.
For the full video of the City Council meeting, check out our website: www.mycameronnews.com.
The next City Council meeting will be August 21 at 6 p.m.