Butterfield lowers water, sewer rates

Thursday, January 5, 2006

The Butterfield City Council passed several ordinances at its Dec. 27, 2005, meeting, significantly reducing water and sewer rates and taking the first steps toward reorganizing Butterfield as a fourth class city.

Butterfield residents voted to change Butterfield from a village to a fourth-class city in the November election, and the first order of business at the meeting was to create wards for the city. The current council is comprised of the former village board of trustees, with former chairman Louise Shultz filling in as mayor until the next election.

City Clerk Georgia Wenell said that after much discussion with Wastewater Operator Donnie Privett, the most logical division of the city seemed to be along Main Street. Ordinance number 124 passed unani-mously, creating the area east of Main as East Ward 1 and the area west of Main as West Ward.

The filing period for city council began on Dec. 13, 2005, and ends Jan. 17. Wenell said she had not received any filings as of the day of the meeting. All current positions will be up for election.

The council also unani-mously passed ordinance number 120 reducing the fee for water from $30 for the first 2,000 gallons to $25. The water usage rate per additional 1,000 gallons was set at 25 cents. Ordinance number 70 was also amended, reducing the minimum user charge for sewer service from $45 to $35 for the first 1,000 gallons. The user rate per each 100 additional gallons was set at 25 cents.

Butterfield raised its water and sewer rates on July 1, 2005, after experiencing significant budget shortfalls in both accounts. Board members had promised residents at that time that rates would be reduced again as soon as some of the losses were covered. The original water rate was $10 for the first 2,000 gallons and the original sewer rate was $25 for the first 1,000 gallons.

Two other ordinances were passed at the Dec. 17, 2005, meeting related to city organization. Ordinance number 119 created the city code book with sections governing: government code; public health, safety and welfare; traffic codes; land use; building and construction; business and occupation; and utilities. Ordinance number 122 created the position of emergency management director. Privett was appointed to that position. The city will need to send him for training.

In her clerk's report, Wenell told council members that the Missouri Department of Transportation had agree to fix the railroad crossing at First Street where the tracks had settled but had determined that the crossing at Fifth Street was in acceptable condition.

Wenell said the city needs some type of accurate street map, both for use by residents and for local projects. She said Simmons Engineering, the city's engineering firm, had already done a lot of mapping work when they did the design work for the water system, but additional mapping by their company would still cost about $1,500.

Tommy Ray, fire chief for the Butterfield Fire Department, said his department had just obtained a new computer that had a disk with a map of Butterfield. He suggested that it might be possible to transfer the map to Wenell's computer and have it printed from there. Ray also said Cherry Bailey with the Cassville Fire Protection District had been able to produce a map for Eagle Rock that was printed at FASCO for a reasonable fee.

Wenell told the council that there was still an issue of about $14,000 to $15,000 worth of work done by the Simmons Engineering when the Village was considering a water project. The water project was never pursued, but Wenell said the contract indicated the Village was still responsible for the design work. Shultz and other council members said it was their understanding at the time that the council would not be responsible for the design costs if the water project was not pursued. Wenell said she would check with the engineering firm and with the city's attorney to determine the city's level of liability.

Under the water and sewer department report, Privett said the city had only one chlorinator pump and needed to have a back-up pump on hand. Council members approved the purchase of an additional pump, expected to cost about $330.

Larry Privett, water operator, said while he was working on some pipes, he had gotten a grinder too close to the injector for the well. He repaired it, but it is starting to leak and probably will have to be replaced. The council approved purchase of a new injector.

Under old business, council members discussed the lease agreement for the fire station. The building is currently owned by the city and used by the Fire Department as a fire station. The Fire Department will expand the building at their own expense, and currently pays gas and insurance. The city is considering a lease agreement with the fire department for the building.

Wenell said the city attorney had looked at the lease agreement and did not approve of the city being locked in for 99 years and also did not approve of the city providing utilities at no cost to the fire department for the period of the lease.

Donnie Privett said that the city would be using half of the building and that he would be using it daily, whereas fire department personnel would only be in there about two days per week. Council members decided that the fire department would continue to pay the gas and the city would continue to pay the water and electric.

Council members also discussed insurance for the fire station expansion. The insurance is currently about $300. If the building is doubled in size, the cost might be about $600, and the city's share would be one-fourth or about $50. Both the city and the fire department carry liability insurance, and Wenell said she needed to check and be sure that is not duplicated.

Council members approved the 2006 budget with total expenses of $224,662 for all accounts. Of that, $86,408 was allocated to the sewer account, of which $35,808 is for loan payments, $56,910 was allocated to the water account, including $12,000 for water tower maintenance payments, and $55,750 was allocated to the general account.

Wenell was asked about the state audit that residents had requested for Butterfield. She said she had not heard anything about it yet, and that if the audit was conducted after Jan. 1, which now seemed likely, then that would take care of the city's required annual audit for 2005, which normally costs the city about $3,500.

Wenell asked if council members wanted the city attorney to look into annexation of business property lying outside the city limits. She said the attorney had mentioned he thought the city had a good case. Council members said they would like to have him pursue it.

The meeting closed with discussion of setting special water and sewer rates for businesses that use minimal amounts of water. Councilman Donald Roberts expressed concern that Butterfield's water and sewer rates would contribute to the loss of smaller businesses and noted in particular that Hoff's Barber Shop would be moving from Butterfield to Cassville soon.

A special meeting was set for Dec. 30, 2005, to review that issue. The council did not have a quorum on Dec. 30 and no action was taken. The issue will be reviewed again at the Jan. 10 meeting.

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