Holts Summit's Board of Aldermen voted 2-1 on an ordinance Thursday, approving an amendment to the city codes which will provide free sewer service in the future to the primary residences of aldermen and the mayor.
Acting City Administrator Hanna Lechner said the new benefit is supposed to act as an incentive to encourage residents to run for city leadership positions. The average sewer bill for a residence in Holts Summit is around $48 a month, Lechner added.
The sewer fund will be reimbursed for the cost of the sewer bills through the alderman's department, according to the ordinance.
"Before this election, you know, we've always had issues with trying to get people to run," Lechner said during an interview in February. "I know there's a couple aldermen that were not going to run another term but they had to because no one else ran against them. So, it's just trying to find something to get more individuals in Holts Summit to take a little initiative to run for councilman so that they can have a say for their ward."
The amendment also gives future aldermen and mayors a free park rental, a value of $25, in the Holts Summit Park System once each quarter.
The ordinance, now Bill No. 2019-10, was originally set on the aldermen meeting's agenda for a first read, setting a final approval of the amendment for a later meeting. However, at the start of the meeting, the aldermen voted to add a second reading to Thursday's agenda.
"The reason we're doing a first and second reading tonight is that way it will start for the new seats in May," Mayor Landon Oxley said during the meeting.
Aldermen cannot vote to give themselves new benefits or a raise during their term, per state statute 79.270, so the changes will not take place for each position until its next election.
The added incentive will be applied to the two aldermen positions up for election in April, both races having more than one candidate. The filing deadline for the seats passed in January, before the sewer benefit was discussed publicly.
No aldermen offered any discussion on the ordinance during the first and second readings. Alderman Thomas Durham voted nay on the final approval of the ordinance and did not state a reason during the meeting.
The only incumbent running for re-election in April, Alderman Larry Fedorchalk, voted to approve the ordinance.
Lechner said Holts Summit employees have their sewer bill paid for if they live within city limits, so the amendment extends that to city officials. Currently, she believes only one employee lives within city limits, Lechner added.
Lechner said the sewer benefit is "a little bit of both" rewarding aldermen for their work and encouraging candidates to run.
"Our aldermen do a lot more behind the scenes for the city than a lot of people are aware of, and so, I feel like they deserve a little bit more than $200 a month."
Aldermen in Holts Summit are paid $200 per month and the mayor is paid $500 per month, dependent upon the office holder's attendance of month meetings. The salaries are equivalent to what other fourth class cities in Missouri offer, according to statistics from the Missouri Municipal League provided by Holts Summit.
When asked if covering an average sewer bill of $48 per month was a substantial enough of an incentive to encourage more residents to run for city leadership positions, Lechner said "I don't know."
"In the long run, that's what we're hoping for," she said. "But, you never really know with some people. You never really know how they're going to react. I mean, some people might jump at it and others might not."
During the meeting, the aldermen also:
Approved an agreement with Summit Veterinary Services for use of an animal shelter, potentially starting later this year.
Approved a letter of agreement with Jefferson City Public Schools for a sewer connection.
Debated an ordinance regulated the use of UTVs and golf carts on city streets.