Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle addressed several rumors about the city's building code at the Cassville City Council's regularly scheduled meeting on July 6.
"When we first talked about enforcing the city's building codes, we knew there would be a lot of what ifs," said Holle. "Some of these codes go back to 1974. The city adopted the International Building Code (IBC) in 1994 or 1995."
In May, the council voted to begin enforcing the codes that were previously adopted.
"At the time that the city adopted the codes, we did not have sufficient staff to try to enforce everything," said Holle. "Even though we are enforcing the codes now we are not trying to catch anybody. Our intent is to make Cassville a safer place."
In an effort to enforce the city's building codes and educate local citizens about safe building procedures, Jim Bushart was hired as the city's building inspector on May 18.
"We knew there would be resistance," said Holle. "There is always resistance when change happens, and people get aggravated when things have always been done a certain way. Just because it has always been done that way doesn't mean it is correct.
"We said that this would be something that we would have to evolve into," said Holle. "We knew that at times we would have to make tough decisions. We decided to start slow and attempt to educate the community."
After receiving suggestions from community members, the city has decided to host meetings with developers, builders, heating and air conditioning unit installers and other groups regarding the building codes.
"This will give us an opportunity to talk about the issues and to inform and educate," said Holle. "We want to do better for the city. I've had people say to me that we really need to clean things up, and we are working on that.
"We want to go back to our master plan and the vision that we have for the city," said Holle. "What kind of vision do we have? What do we see coming?"
Holle invited Eugene Dilbeck, economic development director, to update the council on the city's master planning process.
"The purpose of the master plan is to look at doubling the size of our community over the next 25 years," said Dilbeck. "We will do this through residential and commercial development. We will have infrastructure development also.
"We need to have the support of our local investors, but we also need to attract outside investors to invest in our community and help us achieve the level of development we want," said Dilbeck. "The city's reputation is critical in attracting outside investors. If Cassville is known as a place that has double standards, it will be detrimental to attracting investors to our community."
Dilbeck said that the city must demonstrate that it operates fairly and consistently and provides an equal playing field for all investors.
"As much as we would like to think that the people and the council are in control of the city's future, it is not true," said Dilbeck. "Business and homeowners rely on financial institutions for loans. Those institutions are becoming more strict about loaning money."
Financial institutions and insurance companies are starting to conduct their own inspections of property instead of relying on local inspectors, said Dilbeck.
"This reflects back on the city's reputation," said Dilbeck. "We don't want the financial institutions and insurance companies to say, 'Look out for Cassville. You will run into problems down there.'
"Any standard that the city adopts and enforces must be consistent, fair and widely accepted by investors that could be investing in our community if we have any hope of increasing our population, jobs and economy," said Dilbeck.
Holle and Bushart also presented the following information regarding the city's building codes:
* Hot water heater safety inspections are now offered at no cost.
* Projects that were started before 2006 will be inspected using the code that was in place at the project start date.
* Permits are not required to replace counters or cabinets, paint walls, install floors or for in-kind replacement of toilets, valves, receptacles, ceiling fans, appliances and other furnishings.
* Service call repairs can be performed without obtaining a permit.
* Permits are required for new construction, renovations and appliance upgrades.
* Permits for new construction or major renovation projects will cost 15 cents per square foot.
* Permits for minor renovation projects will cost $75.
"Rumors can be validated or invalidated with a quick call to city hall," said Holle. "We are working on this. It is a process that takes time and a lot of educating.
"We are not trying to make money for the city," said Holle. "We are not charging excessive fees. We just need to recover the costs to employ someone to go out and do this."
In other business, the Cassville City Council:
* Approved a $4,595 bid from Tucker Electric for a 92.3 percent efficiency furnace and air conditioner that will be installed at the wastewater treatment plant. The city also received a $4,447 bid from Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning for an 80 percent efficiency gas furnace and air condition unit.
* Heard an update on a project that will extend the city's sewer system to a lot on Highway 37 where an 8,000-square-foot Sears store will be constructed.
* Voted to obtain an engineering plan for a new water line that will serve residents who live along Bittersweet Lane in Cassville.
* Heard that Steve Henderson has received the Missouri Lifetime Membership Award from the Missouri Water and Wastewater Association.
* Appointed Dana Kammerlohr, police chief, as the city's emergency management director.