The Fulton City Council welcomed two new members and reached a resolution on an ongoing debate regarding bringing the Keen Water Tower back into service during Tuesday night's regular meeting.
At the top of the agenda for the night, outgoing Mayor Charlie Latham and the sitting council members had the water tower project up for discussion as they wrapped up old business before disbanding and swearing in the newly-elected officials.
"The staff is looking for direction so they can get started on this and stop wasting the construction season," Latham said.
The council has been debating back and forth for several months on the merits of approving a design/build agreement to raise and renovate the Keen tower with Shafer, Kline and Warren, Inc. of Columbia at a proposed cost of $909,787 to get the project done quickly at a projected savings of $40,000-$60,000 rather than starting from scratch. The other option is to build an entirely new tower and go through the traditional bid process - for which the council wanted a cost estimate.
During Tuesday night's meeting, Director of Administration Bill Johnson said Boonville had bid construction of a similar-sized water tower at a cost of $1.16 million, which did not include engineering fees.
Several council members questioned whether it would not be better to build a new tower utilizing newer technology, asking whether simply raising and renovating the existing tower would meet Department of Natural Resources standards.
"It would all be done to their current standards," City Engineer Greg Hayes assured the council.
Ward 1 Councilman Wayne Chailland asked what the life expectancy on the renovated tower would be and how that compared to a new building. Hayes said the life span of the tower would be approximately 50 years for both options, with the need to repaint in 15-20 years.
Hayes said he felt the design/build option was a better choice for the city for this particular project "because you can get it up, get it working and can move on to other projects."
"We've talked to DNR, and they are okay with this design," agreed Utilities Director Darrell Dunlap.
Later in the meeting, a resolution to approve the design/build agreement was passed 6-2, with Chailland and Ward 2 Councilman Lowe Cannell voting against it.
Once old business was wrapped up, Latham called for a recess of the council and the newly-elected members - including new Mayor LeRoy Benton, new Ward 4 Councilman Rick Shiverdecker, new Prosecuting Attorney Casey Clevenger and incumbents Chailland, Cannell and Mary Rehklau in Ward 2, Richard Vaughn in Ward 3 - were sworn in. Ward 1 Councilman Mike West was voted deputy mayor.
"It's been a pleasure working with you all. You are experts in your fields, and I've learned something from all of you," Latham told city employees present at the meeting before standing down. "I appreciate the citizens allowing me the opportunity to serve."
He and outgoing Ward 4 Councilman James McCall later were presented with resolutions honoring their service.
Benton also had a few words before starting his first meeting as mayor.
"We as a city council must recognize that the citizens of Fulton are at the top of the organizational chart and we answer to them," Benton said, noting his major emphasis will be on communication and planning. "Fulton is a great community, and I think it can be even greater with more citizen input."
One of his first acts as mayor was to appoint Ward 3 Councilman John Pautz to head a committee to look into the city's existing animal ordinance, asking if any other council members would like to be included. West and Rehklau both said they would be interested. Also appointed to the committee were Edie Maxie and Charles Williams. West suggested Tiffany McBee, who runs a local pit bull rescue, also be included.
"If you're interested, please contact Mr. Pautz," Benton said to those gathered at the meeting.
Benton also requested an extension of Fulton's annual Spring cleanup, originally scheduled to end Friday. He suggested the service be extended to April 29 - the date on which the Fulton Landfill is scheduled to close. The council agreed. Residents' pick-up days will continue to be their regular trash day.