Springfield, MO

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City Beat

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by Karen Culp

City Council will vote on a bill at its next meeting to establish a new rate schedule for sewer rates. The new schedule, effective July 1, 1999, will raise sewer rates 4.5 percent in the next five years, with a 0.5 percent increase as of July 1, 1999, and a 1 percent increase each year thereafter.

The increase will pay for extending sewer to all of the city and also for a phosphorus-removal program for the portion of the city's wastewater treatment plant that does not currently have one. At its last meeting, council approved a resolution updating the schedule for that system's implementation.

Marc Thornsberry, director of Public Works, estimated that the increase of 4.5 percent would be an average increase of 60 cents for residential bills.

Council members indicated that they were pleased with the bill, the result of several weeks of negotiations. Mayor Pro Tem Teri Hacker, who was presiding over the meeting in Mayor Lee Gannaway's absence, said she was very proud of what the council and staff had done. Councilman Conrad Griggs agreed, saying that he felt very strongly that the city "has a civic responsibility ... to the next generation to provide the best quality of life possible for the future."

Council tabled two bills to annex property in two different areas: one parcel of about three acres of right of way on Plain-view Road, and another parcel of about four acres of right of way on Blackman and Battlefield roads.

Attorney Ted Johnson spoke against the two bills, saying that he doesn't think the city is going to develop policies to cover every road in the city. The two bills were tabled and sent to a joint city-county committee for review.

Two more bills for public hearing also dealt with street issues. One bill limited the use of High Street between Glenstone and Nias avenues to passenger traffic, and was the result of the neighborhood requesting to post "no-truck" signs. Another bill dealt with the placement of signs in the city on streets. The bill changes the sign spacing in congested areas from 100 feet to 200 feet.

Council also held a public hearing on a bill to accept a $160,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for improvements to the Nathanael Greene Park area. The city will match the grant by 35 percent, with $90,000 to be funded through the quarter-cent Capital Improvement Tax Fund. Donations will account for $35,000.

Park Department officials reported that the $35,000 in donations has already been raised for the $250,000 project. Bill Hobbs, of the Park Department, said the group already had $50,000 of donations in hand.

Council also held a first reading on a bill that would make improvements at Norton Road and Highway 13 as part of an infrastructure agreement with Lowe's Home Centers. The improvements would cost about $400,000.

Council also passed unanimously a bill that authorizes an infrastructure agreement between the Thompson Sales Company and the city for improvements at Independence Avenue and Fremont. The agreement had to be amended following the last council meeting because the language was not specific enough.

Thompson Sales Company is looking to relocate its car sales business, which currently occupies two sites in Springfield, one on St. Louis and one on South Campbell, to Independence Avenue. The St. Louis property is part of the parcel of 35 acres to be developed into Civic Park.

Council also passed an ordinance forming the Springfield Center City Development Corporation. That corporation will manage the flow of funds for the Civic Park project.

(See a summary of council's actions, beginning on page 62.)

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