During the Bonne Terre City Council meeting on Monday, various issues were discussed.
City Administrator Shawn Kay brought up an inquiry about the use of support animals in the city-owned Parkview Apartments.
“East Missouri Action Agency, as you well know, is managing our apartment complex for us,” he said. “They have had a request for someone to have a support animal of some sort. It’s not required by law that we honor that.
“It’s a slippery slope – if you open it up to one then it’s going be really tough to re-cage the rabbit.”
City Attorney Seth Pegram weighed the legality of having a support animal in the apartment.
“A service animal is very different than a support animal,” he said about the types of animals that are always allowed in public accommodations. “Service animals are trained for a specific task like sensing high blood sugar, or seizures, or helping the blind.
“They’re very different than a comfort animal, or an emotional support animal. If they wish to see if it is an actual service animal as defined by federal law, then the city would be happy to evaluate it. So far there’s never been anything shown that these animals are trained to perform a function that would qualify it. There is no defined criteria for a support animal by the federal code."
The council tabled the matter and agreed that the animals would be brought up on a case-by-case basis.
“So we’ve essentially kicked it to our attorney to give us a determination or not whether we have to legally accept the animal in question,” Kay said later.
In other news, the council members approved a contract with Pollock Landscaping, LLC. to install an irrigation system for the baseball field for $29,152.
This summer the baseball field will be remediated with the rest of the sports complex to conform to lead standards set by the EPA.
They also authorized the use of a “Statewide Court Automation Fund” for the statewide court automation program to be implemented soon.
“Our court is currently run through our general fund, our checking account just like everything else,” Kay said. “The only separate account it has for bonds. For a state statute to move into an automated system that it’s currently putting together, it has to be separated. Desloge is doing the same thing. Everyone in the area is doing the same thing. It won’t cost the city anything, but court costs will have an additional $9 from the state.”
Spring cleanup is set for April 22-May 3.
Donyel Burns was approved to join the Planning and Zoning Committee.
“We had a couple who just dropped, and I know Donyel and she should be very good on there," Mayor Brandon Hubbard said. "She’s a real estate agent and has been here for a long time.”
They discussed what to do about bad debt water accounts that are uncollectable.
Alderman Ward 3 Erik Schonhardt said, “There were seven houses that had people who died, or some houses that have been sold multiple times, and it’s never been caught to have them pay. It’s been about $800 of bad water bills.”
Kay said later that one of them had not paid for 10 years. The council decided to write them off.
Alderman Ward 1 Bruce Pratte said that he had been approached a couple of times about the proposed property tax rate of 0.5701 for the April election.
“They asked if we could raise the property tax after it was voted in, and I would like to just say ‘no’. We can’t do that unless it is voted for. We can only lower it.”
An attendee in the audience was bothered at how hard it was to hear some of the council members in the auditorium compared to the regular council chambers.
“The council intends to go back to our normal chambers once we’re finished with all our activities and town halls with the [property] tax,” Kay said. “The next city council (meeting) will be on April 26, and it will be back to where we were before.”