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INDEPENDENCE – While a community highlight of 2020 was the “Matt Loves Rebecca” proclamation on the water tower in First Ward Park by the Court House, the City had to have it painted over.

Although the paint job freshened the look of the water tower it came at time the city was already considering maintenance of all three City operated towers.

At their December 28 meeting the Council approved a long term (10-year) agreement covering initial repairs followed by annual checks and maintenance.

Highlights of the contracts with Utility Service Group Co., Inc. (Suez Advanced Solutions) include:

Ward 1 Tank

The tank shall receive an exterior renovation, interior renovation and repairs prior to the end of Contract Year 2. The first five (5) annual fees shall be $98,660 per Contract Year. The annual fee for Contract Year 6 shall be $18,174.

MHI Tank

The “MHI tank” is located on the west end of the MHI campus. It shall receive an interior renovation and repairs prior to the end of Contract Year 1. The tank shall receive an exterior renovation prior to the end of Contract Year 3. The first five (5) annual fees shall be $43,144.00 per Contract Year. The annual fee for Contract Year 6 shall be $15,467.

Shop Tank

The “Shop Tank” is located on 12th Street NE by the Street Department Shop. The tank shall receive an interior dry renovation and repairs prior to the end of Contract Year 2. The tank shall receive an exterior renovation and interior renovation prior to the end of Contract Year 4. The first five (5) annual fees shall be $122,640.00 per Contract Year. The annual fee for Contract Year 6 shall be $24,837.

For all three tank contracts OSHA safety and security upgrades will be made to ladders and rails. Also, starting in Contract Year 7 and each anniversary thereafter, the annual fee shall be adjusted to reflect the current cost of service. There are of course opportunities for the City to re-negotiate.

The estimated annual total contract cost for the first six years is $1,380,000.

In other Council business:

- Police Chief Dallenbach reported the new speed cameras were installed, but there were data capture problems. He announced the grace period for violators would be extended to the end of January. As a reminder tickets generated by the new camera system need to be approved by the police department before sent to the registered owner. When the system goes ‘live’ violations will be of a ‘civil’, not ‘criminal’ nature. The violation will not be counted against a person’s state driving record.

- Andrew Grice of berganKDV reviewed a recently completed ‘Annual Audit’ of the City books for the Council. He was complimentary of working with City officials and staff in his report. The only major items selected as deficient were for lack of segregation of duties, a common finding in smaller organizations. He also highlighted that as of June 30, 2020, the Capital Projects fund had a fund balance deficit of $1,502,428. The balance was due in part because of the recent street projects. It was also noted the deficit will be eliminated by future bond issuances, grants, and operating transfers.

- In a split vote of 6-1, with Councilmember O’Loughlin dissenting, the Council adopted for the second time the revised Chapter 75 ATV Ordinance. The third and final reading will be Monday, Jan. 11.

- Also set for Monday, Jan. 11 will be a public hearing to discuss a rezoning request to allow a Dollar Fresh to be built along Three Elms Park Road.

- The Council was presented results of a community survey. The National Community Survey™ report centered on the ‘livability’ of Independence. The phrase “livable community” is used here to evoke a place that is not simply habitable, but that is desirable. It is not only where people do live, but where they want to live. A sample of residents were asked their opinions on ten central facets of a community: Economy, Mobility, Community Design, Utilities, Safety, Natural Environment, Parks and Recreation, Health and Wellness, Education, Arts and Culture, and Inclusivity and Engagement. The results will be used for strategic and budget planning. The overall aggregated response was “Independence is a desirable place to live, with safety as a feature that contributes to quality of life.”

- The Council also called for a closed session to “discuss strategy with counsel in the matter that is presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent.” The closed session lasted almost two hours. After they resumed the open session, no official actions were taken other than adjourning the meeting.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, January 11.

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