Mayor Shawn Cady called the meeting of Witt City Council to order at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27, with the Pledge of Allegiance. Aldermen Dave Cearlock, Jay Martin, Lyn Cady, Catherine Cady, Kaitlin Govaia and Tim Taylor, City Clerk Nancy Hughes, Treasurer Sonia Hodson, Fire Chief Don Keiser, City Attorney Chris Sherer and EJ Water Cooperative Representative Eric Emmerich were present.
Several residents were present to address the board regarding letters they had received about property maintenance issues. They stated that the issues would be addressed and were given information on how/when to use the city provided dumpsters. Mayor Cady stated that the dumpster service is the city’s way of helping residents since they are really pushing to clean up properties in the city. He informed the council that a lot of letters have been sent out concerning property maintenance within the last few weeks.
Emmerich gave the water report to the council. He informed the board that the new water meters will arrive a week later than the cooperative had expected to receive them, but that they would still be installed by the end of August and EJ Water Cooperative will take over billing in September. City workers will be required to help the cooperative install the new meters as they will need guidance on where the meters are located. Conversation turned to how residents will be informed about the new billing procedures. Alderman Cearlock asked about the level of difficulty to set up recurring payments online, for older residents in particular, and Emmerich assured him that it could be done easily. He confirmed that there is a $2.50 cent fee to use a credit card as a form of payment - this fee will be passed on to the customer. He stated that there is no additional fee to pay with a debit card or set up ACH payments. While EJ Water Cooperative will take over billing, residents will still remain customers of the City of Witt.
Emmerich moved on to discuss valve replacements. He estimated that they were looking at roughly $15,000 cost to replace all the valves. Mayor Cady stated that he would like to hold off on the project and take more time to assess where replacements are needed. The idea of potentially using a portion of the funding the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan to replace valves was presented. Cady said that the city is slated to receive $114,000 in funding but that it has to be used within specific guidelines and that there is still uncertainty about which projects the federal government will allow the funding to be directed towards.
Emmerich updated the board on the situation with the altitude valve that feeds Irving. At a previous meeting he had informed them that it was the wrong valve and that it needed to be replaced with a pressure valve. He presented a quote to replace the valve at a cost of $2,755. Alderman Taylor made a motion to approve the purchase and all voted in favor.
Alderman Martin asked if there was a better way to send out mass communication when water is temporarily shut off or boil orders are implemented. The current procedure is to announce any changes on WSMI. Mayor Cady stated that this is an ongoing issue. Emmerich informed the council that once billing is switched over customers will receive a mass text or email regarding any water issues or temporary cessations. Martin stated that the city needs to personally inform the businesses in town, in addition to sending out mass communication messages through WSMI, the local newspapers, Facebook and the Fire Department’s electronic billboard.
Taylor informed the board that he had discovered a bad water main line while replacing a hydrant near Casey’s General Store and that he anticipates there are likely other lines in similar states of disrepair. Taylor went on to tell his fellow alderman that he had received a call from CTI earlier in the day and that one of their trucks had fallen through an alley. A sewer line runs through the center of the alley and Taylor thinks that tree roots have likely broken the line, which eventually led to the collapse of the alley. The area has been barricaded and emergency funds will be used to fix the issue immediately.
Treasurer Hodson presented her report to the council. Municipal Utility Tax received for June was $2,629.49. Police Chief Scott Wood and Fire Chief Don Keiser submitted reports. Keiser asked for permission to put out no parking signs, which will be paid for by the fire department, in areas where parked cars could prevent their engines from reaching a fire in an emergency. He also stated that fire investigators had been in the city to assess the two house fires that had occurred. The investigators felt that the two fires were related but it was likely an isolated incident.
The aldermen returned to a discussion from their previous meeting regarding recodification of city ordinances. Alderman Martin requested an official quote, which Mayor Cady will bring to a future meeting.
Council members have received more reports of vandalism at the park, including broken glass and stomping plants in the community garden lots. There have also been reports of kids climbing on the rafters of the pavilion which could present a liability issue in the instance of an injury. A motion was made to allocate $300 to purchase cameras for the public area and to put in lights. All voted in favor. Taylor will speak with Ameren about where to place lights.
The annual budget for the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, as well as the annual appropriation ordinance were tabled. The board plans to discuss both at a special meeting. A date and time have yet to be set. After a brief discussion on the need for a road extension at the cemetery the council agreed to bid out the project.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.