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City Beat

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by Karen E. Culp

Five bills dealing

with sewer and phosphorous will go to the finance committee

City Council during its Sept. 8 meeting referred five bills dealing with sewer

and phosphorous-removal issues to the finance committee, which was to have met at noon Sept. 10 to try to come to a resolution.

Councilwoman Teri Hacker, who is interested in getting funding in place for a phosphorous-removal system for the city's water treatment program, proposed a withdrawal of 4 percent of payments in lieu of taxes from the water fund to pay for the second phase of phosphorous removal at the Southwest Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The first phase of phosphorous removal is already under way. Hacker sponsored the resolution and a second resolution, which would withdraw the payments at a rate of 1 percent per year until the 4 percent level is reached.

"I didn't have the support for the immediate 4 percent resolution; I didn't have five votes, so I proposed the second resolution with the 1 percent provision," Hacker said.

Two ordinances set for first reading also dealt with wastewater issues, but these two ordinances, both sponsored by Councilmen Conrad Griggs and Gary Gibson, were to increase rates to provide for expansion of the sewer system.

Another resolution, which was recommended by the Board of Public Utilities, proposed a payment in lieu of taxes of .75 percent of gross operating revenues and increasing the amount by .75 percent per year, provided that the payments not exceed 4 percent.

Hacker said she agreed that there is a need for expanding the sewer capacity, but added that she did not think that item should be tied to the phosphorous-removal issue.

"There is an urgency about the phosphorous issue. The damage that is being done to (Table Rock Lake) is cumulative and irreversible," Hacker said.

The council also passed unanimously a bill dealing with the distance of jails from other facilities.

The ordinance increases the distance a jail, prison or detention facility must be from another such facility from one-quarter mile to 2,000 feet.

The facility would also have to locate 750 feet from an elementary or secondary school, park or residential district.

That requirement was previously 500 feet.

Council also passed unanimously a bill to spend a total of $50,297 on the renovation of the Old Calaboose, the structure that was once the city jail and is to become a police substation and museum. A portion the money for the project will come from fund raising, said City Manager Tom Finnie.

"There has been a very successful fund-raising effort for this project so far. The largest part of the additional funding for the project will come from voluntary contributions," Finnie said.

The council also passed a bill that dealt with a grant for the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge project. The grant is for $109,910 of federal highway transportation funds. The city will contribute matching funds of $50,590.

The money would go toward renovation of the historic structure on Commercial Street.

Councilman Tom Carlson inquired about the project, asking whether it would not cost less to tear down the structure, which Finnie had said was damaged and in need of repair.

"From the vantage point of its being a historical structure and that it can't be left the way it is, it is our feeling that it would be better to repair the structure," Finnie said.

With some reservations, the council also passed a bill to allow inoperable vehicles to be stored at storage rental facilities. Councilman Russell Rhodes cast the sole dissenting vote, saying he did not think this was a viable solution to the overall problem of storage of inoperable vehicles. Councilman Bob Vanaman agreed.

"We're not getting less of these vehicles out there; we're getting more. We're going to have to stay ahead of the ball on this," Vanaman said.

Council also held a first reading on a bill that would allow for property to be developed into Civic Park to be condemned, if a price for the property cannot be negotiated with the current owners. The bill is set for a second reading Sept. 28; it is a two-reading bill.

"We want to put this in place now in the event we are not successful in negotiating with one or more of the property owners," Finnie said.

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