Thayer City Council has busy agenda
It's official -- Thayer water customers are going to be paying higher water and sewer rates after a vote by the Thayer City Council at its Aug. 12 meeting. After a lengthy discussion, the council agreed that the rate increase was necessary to maintain the water system and to build up enough revenue to satisfy future updates to the system. With these adjustments in place, the new water rate will increase to $5.69 per 1,500 gallons used, and the sewer rate will go up to $8.78 per 1,500 gallon used.
"Just hit us once with [the increase], not twice." Doris Brown told the council as it was deciding whether to nearly double both water and sewer rates. Others in the audience were in agreement that large increases for both was too much. Council members pointed out at previous meetings that the city had not raised water and sewer rates in years, and the current rates are far below the average for cities of Thayer's size. While the increases were approved, when they will go into effect will be determined at the next council meeting, after it finalizes guidelines for the increases.
Another issue before the council was a proposed new drug ordinance, giving police more power question and arrest someone they believe may be under the influence of drugs, even if they are not in possession of drugs. Ordinance 1059, which was passed, will amend Article XI of the Thayer City Code by making it "unlawful, within the city limits of Thayer Missouri, to be to any degree under the influence of or have in detectable amount in the human body any of the following: marijuana, hashish, opium, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, or any other substance...listed as a... controlled substance." A person arrested under the new ordinance can present an "affirmative defense," showing "the defendant was influenced by the controlled substance...for medical purposes upon written prescription...under the direction of a person licensed...to prescribe, dispense or administer the controlled substance."
In layman's terms, police within the city of Thayer will be able to detain and arrest someone who they believe are under the influence, or have drugs in their system at the time of questioning. This differs from a conventional possession charge, where a person would have to be holding or possessing a substance on their person (in their pocket, car or home for example).
When asked by The South Missourian News, Municipal Judge Bill Hass said that, under Missouri statute, municipal courts (such as the one in Thayer) have certain limits as to what fines and punishments can be assessed in dealing with infractions or misdemeanors brought to the court. The judge explained that, under any municipal charge, there is a maximum of a $500 fine with a potential of up to 90 days in jail. Since this is a new ordinance, a case has not been heard and a penalty has not been set.
On another police matter, the council approved Chief Daryl Childers' request to acquire a K9 unit for the department. Further details on the animal and its purpose, presumably for drug detection, will be hashed out by the council and the police department. Chief Childers told the council he would like to begin soliciting local businesses and sponsors for the animal, to help with the cost of caring and maintaining a K9 program. Childers also updated the council on improvements planned for the police headquarters building.
In other business, the council discussed reexamining the city's peddler license. Alderman Simpson told the council that she would like to see revisions to allow for licensing of farmers markets and other businesses. The current ordinance is quite dated, referring to old folks homes, juke boxes and motion picture shows. The amounts given for the issuance of licenses vary greatly, and the council decided that further investigation is needed in order to make the process simpler for business prospects within the city. The issue was tabled for further review.
The council decided to move forward with the purchase of a computer and a mapping system for the city's cemetery. Currently, if someone is seeking to find a specific plot or person interred at the cemetery, they have to go through several record books which are quite old and not in any sort of alphabetical or chronologic order. The system software will cost approximately $1,200, in addition to a $550 licensing fee. City Clerk Donna Martin told the council that the process of transferring the information from the old books into a usable database will take six months to a year to complete.
The council also voted to participate in the GPS mapping system that Oregon County commissioners have begun. Commissioners have asked cities in the county to join the effort so all areas of the county will be included. The system will be used by first responders to quickly pinpoint the location of an emergency call, and can eventually be used as part of a 911 system. The council does not know how much it will be expected to contribute to the mapping system project, but agreed the new system is needed. It voted unanimously to participate, as have the other municipalities in the county.
The council decided to have city workers help in the removal of the scales at the old Hilton Feed Mill. The scales are beginning to fall in on themselves and present a potential hazard for citizens. The council asked Brian Blankenship to assist in their removal. Also, the council decided to investigate putting scrap construction materials and an unused and untitled motorcycle up for public bid.
Bids were opened on generators and the old Ice Plant building, which were declared surplus property. The generators were sold to Linda Roark for $800, and the Ice Plant building was sold to Carl Herbelt, the only party to make a bid, for $2,500.
After a closed session, the council decided that Jason Jennings will stay on in full time employment after his 90 day probation period ends.