The Holts Summit Board of Aldermen held the first read of an ordinance Thursday, accepting hundreds of easements with residents in preparation for work on a multi-million dollar sewer project.
The project, which has been in development for years, will connect the currently separate eastern portion of the city's sewer system to the western portion, allowing for all waste water to flow to Jefferson City.
City Administrator Matt Harline said Holts Summit has been in the process of getting easements from residents whose property will be involved in construction for years. Recently, the city managed to get the last hold out on board with the most expensive easement at around $1,200, he added.
More than 150 properties have at least one easement, with many properties having multiple. Harline said some of the first residents who signed an easement are beginning to get impatient, as part of the project is connecting their properties to the sewer system.
Harline said the current goal is to start construction work in the spring.
In March, it was reported the project will cost $5 million-$6 million and add 3.5-5 miles of new piping. A U.S Department of Agriculture grant will partially fund the project.
The aldermen will likely hold a second reading and passage of the ordinance next month. Holts Summit is on a time crunch, as it is on a deadline from the USDA to have the project out for bid by Nov. 3 or get an extension, Harline said.
Also during the meeting, the aldermen went over a report detailing accounting issues with the municipal court from last year. The report was by Kris VanderVeen, a deputy circuit court clerk in Cole County, who was asked by previous city officials to help identify any issues.
"What happened to originally start this was some individuals got arrested on warrants that should never have been put out there," City Clerk Hanna Lechner told the aldermen.
Harline said Holts Summit has resolved the issues and no funds are known to be missing, but for a span of several months, some "basic financial reconciliation and record keeping" was not being done.
Problems mentioned in the report include missing manual receipt books; checks without sufficient funds that were never taken back; using incorrect codes that prevented the city from receiving funds from fines; and the use of web payments before the city was officially set up to process those payments.
Harline said Holts Summit's revenue from the municipal court from last year is comparable to the previous year.
"There's no indication that there's financial issues," City Attorney David Bandre said. "The indication is solely that the paperwork is not in the format in which it's supposed to be, and because of that, it's not in the format that makes it easy to check when somebody comes up and says there's a problem."
The aldermen passed four ordinances Thursday, including one allowing Holts Summit to enter into an agreement with Callaway Water District No. 1 to shut off water to residents delinquent on their sewer payments.
Although Holts Summit's management of the sewer system is separate from the water district's services, Harline said in August the agreement creates a better option than cutting off a resident's sewer service, which is more likely to cause property damage than shutting off water access.
As part of the contract, Holts Summit will pay for the water district's cost to shut off a resident's water, including revenue lost, unless the resident is also delinquent on their water bill.
Another ordinance passed by the aldermen amends the city's code regarding animals, adding a segment that requires a disposition hearing be held when an animal is taken due to abuse or neglect.
Harline said in August the portion of the code dealing with disposition hearings had been accidentally deleted last year, making it difficult for the Holts Summit Police Department to enforce the city's rules involving animals.
"When we seize an animal due to abandonment, cruelty, something like that — that's property," Harline said. "If we are going to adopt out or destroy an animal, we want to have due process."
The aldermen also appointed Jordana Ortiz as the city's court clerk and accepted a preliminary plat of two sections to be added to The Cedars subdivision in the city.
Harline said, along with approving the plats, the city is also working with the developer to create a second access to the subdivision. As of now, there is only one road leading to The Cedars, creating emergency access concerns. A new road would likely connect Holt Lane and Edwards Street.