LEADWOOD – In the newest step of what has been a confusing issue, the Leadwood Board of Aldermen on Monday rejected a proposal from Taylor Engineering that would outline repairs in the wastewater treatment system.
Initially, the board called for bids to do a preliminary report for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). At last month’s regular meeting, the board listed the top three bidders and said they would meet with Taylor Engineering to negotiate a contract.
Last week, they met with Taylor Engineering. But by then, DNR had told them they could not file a preliminary report until the city fixed the problems previous administrations had promised to do.
The city has had trouble with its water and sewer system for at least a decade. In 2006, the city’s officials signed a settlement agreement with the DNR and the Attorney General’s office after a routine compliance inspection the previous year revealed sludge in the stream below the city’s wastewater treatment facility as well as an unnamed tributary to the Big River.
According to the settlement agreement, DNR staff observed “…the presence of filamentous organisms keeping the activated sludge from settling properly in the clarifier and causing solids to pass over the weir of the clarifier into the receiving stream.” The issue put the city in violation of several state laws, including the Clean Water Act.
In the agreement, Leadwood agreed to pay $35,000 in fines and paid $3,500 of it up-front. The remaining fine was suspended on the condition that Leadwood did not violate the Clean Water Act again and met the other conditions of the agreement. Within 18 months, the city was to address inflow and infiltration and must submit a complete construction permit application or an inflow/infiltration plan reductions plan prepared by a Missouri licensed professional engineer. Within 60 days of the agreement, the city was supposed to submit an evaluation of sludge storage and handling.
The agreement was signed by Jim Stahlman, who was mayor of Leadwood at the time.
The city did not make the changes previous administrations promised, Alderman John Vickers said.
One reason the changes were not made was the frequent changes in the city’s leadership.
Stahlman walked out of a meeting and quit in July 2006. Jeff Mahurin held the seat until 2009, when Bill Link won the election. Link resigned in August 2009 after pressure from the board to do so. Mayor Pro Tem Donnie Eaton stepped in as mayor until October, when the board voted Dennis Bayless in as mayor until the April 2010 election. John Hartley won the mayoral seat in that election.
Hartley resigned in November, and Dennis Parks was chosen to serve as mayor until April elections. He was elected in April to fill the rest of Hartley’s term.
In addition, elections and resignations continually changed the board membership.
Last summer, the board had asked Taylor Engineering to determine what improvements should be made and in what manner, but a contract never was signed.
In April, the current board decided to rebid the proposal. Last month, they invited Taylor Engineering, H and R Engineering and Smith and Company Engineering to discuss their proposals before choosing the winning bid.
The meeting with Taylor took place last week, but the city’s needs had changed.
Vickers said the DNR will not address a preliminary report until the previously promised changes are made. Instead of agreeing to hire Taylor Engineering to write the preliminary document as reported last week, they instead asked the company to submit a plan to make those changes.
On Monday night, the board voted 2 to 1 to reject Taylor Engineer’s plan. In that proposal, Taylor agreed to write a plan, present it to the board for approval, present it to the DNR and respond to DNR comments for a cost not to exceed $3,000. That plan included only one round of negotiations.
The board agreed to enter into negotiations with one of the other two companies to see what they would propose.
Also on Monday, the board agreed to an intergovernmental agreement with the county to share use of a striping machine.
“The county only uses it one week a year,” Commissioner Patrick Mullins told the board. “Then it just sits there. Why not let the cities use it?”
The city will be able to use the machine free of charge, other than the cost of a can of paint, Mullins said. He hopes to have additional intergovernmental agreements in the future.
Mayor Dennis Parks asked the board to consider putting two items on the November ballot. Both items were approved by the board.
The first would increase the terms of all elected officials from two years to four. The second would allow the city to raise its sales tax, The current tax is 6.975 percent, City Clerk Sarah Moyers said.
The board will determine the amount of increase after researching how much it may request, Parks said.
Parks also asked Moyers to check out the prices for dog and cat license tags. The city has an ordinance requiring all dogs and cats to be licensed, but that ordinance cannot be enforced until the city has tags to sell, he explained.
The board will consider training on the Peachtree accounting software the city purchased. Currently, that software is not being used to its fullest.
Board members also noted the need for departments to do an inventory, use purchase orders for every purchase and reduce the number of trips for supplies by keeping a list of needed items to buy at one time.
In other business, the board asked police to stop writing tickets for “rolling stops” or failure to use a turn signal unless it is a chronic problem; signed a detailed agreement dealing with the “hiring of a new canine officer”; agreed to shut down the street in front of the police department of city hall from about 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 7 for a “back to school” street dance for youth. The event will be held by the Leadwood Community Betterment Committee.”
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at email@example.com.