Alderman questions membership expenditure

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alderman Jeff Parsons questioned a membership expenditure listed in the City of Cassville's monthly check detail register during the Cassville City Council's regularly scheduled meeting on May 16.

Parsons questioned a $369 expenditure, which covers Cassville Rotary Club membership dues for Mayor Tracy Holle, City Administrator Eugene Dilbeck and Economic Development Director Lynette Dilbeck.

"I have been a member of Rotary for three years," said Holle. "I should probably resign from the group because of the costs and the fact that we do have three members. I think at this time it would be prudent for me to withdraw my membership."

Holle indicated that should would submit a letter to the Cassville Rotary Club indicating her intentions.

"This started three years ago," said Eugene Dilbeck. "It was our policy to have three members, but the council can change that at any time. You can decide to not have memberships at all or limit our membership or whatever you would like to do."

Alderman Terry Heinz reminded Eugene Dilbeck that the council had previously requested a list of all of the city's current memberships.

"This is a broader issue," said Heinz. "We need to see a list of all of the professional organizations that the city belongs to and the time those organizations take away from staff duties. I think this has gotten a bit excessive, and it just keeps growing."

Eugene Dilbeck agreed to compile a list of all of the city's memberships and present the list to the council at its next meeting on June 6.

"We will give you a list with a paragraph that gives our justification for membership," said Eugene Dilbeck. "That way you will have a basis to see if we are on the right or wrong track on our memberships.

"City operations are very complicated," said Eugene Dilbeck. "We deal in many professional areas. Some of these memberships help with certifications, some are required by the state and some help us satisfy training and education requirements. We need to do a better job at educating you on what organizations we feel are a benefit to the city."

During his administrator's report, Eugene Dilbeck indicated that staff members are intensifying enforcement of the city's nuisance laws. During the last few weeks, 34 notices were distributed to residents regarding grass height and trash on properties.

"On the grass warnings, we have to give the resident 10 days to correct the problem," said Holle. "If they don't correct the problem, they are issued a summons to go before the judge."

Residents are only provided with one warning. Residents who repeatedly violate the city's nuisance ordinance will not receive a warning, said Eugene Dilbeck.

Steve Walensky, public works director, reported that the Can We Help Campaign has been successful this year.

"We have had a lot of calls inquiring about the cleanup," said Walensky. "The response has been very positive. The city has taken in enough trash to fill a 30-yard dumpster already. The guys have told me that it looks like they have picked up more than they did last year."

Holle asked Walensky to publish a map of the trash pick-up areas with notices about the Can We Help Campaign next year.

Alderman Bill Hill inquired about the progress the city has made regarding the removal of several condemned properties located in the city.

"If we want to move toward the removal of those properties, we have to be able to withstand the expense of taking care of those properties," said Eugene Dilbeck. "The property owners can take down a building at cost, but if we decide to tear down a building, we will need to do testing and eradicate any potentially hazardous materials before we can take down the building. That comes at a significant cost."

Eugene Dilbeck indicated that grants that provide funding for the removal of condemned properties are no longer available. The city could use a property lien to recoup costs, but it would likely be some time before any revenue is returned to the city, said Eugene Dilbeck.

In other business, the Cassville City Council:

* Reviewed the May revenue sales tax report, which indicated that revenues have increased 5 percent this month when compared to revenues received in May of 2010.

* Heard a report from Eugene Dilbeck on the regional transportation advisory commission.

* Received an update on a utility rate study currently being completed by the Missouri Rural Water Association.

*Heard that a security update will be competed in the Cassville council chambers over the next three weeks.

* Approved a five-year lease agreement with MFA for the donation of land to serve local youth sports programs. The contract will extend an agreement that allows the city and baseball leagues to use the MFA's land for ballfields

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