The Park Hills City Council meeting on Tuesday got off to a rocky start.
After calling the meeting to order at 6 p.m., Mayor Daniel Naucke immediately called for a motion to adjourn and reconvene in a closed executive session.
Councilman David Easter was the only one to object, and the council adjourned and reconvened in a closed session in the police station. City Administrator Mark McFarland and City Clerk Terri Richardson returned to the Council chambers at 7:03 p.m. The rest of the council rejoined in the chambers at 7:38 p.m.
When asked if any decisions were made or motions were passed in the closed executive session, Mayor Naucke redirected the question to the McFarland, who said no comment could be made for 72 hours. More information will be provided when it becomes available.
During council discussions, Councilman Tom Reed brought up the issue of local landlords failing to keep their properties up to code. He said there are ways that some of the landlords in the area are subverting laws and not getting their properties inspected. Reed said that many people in the area, himself included, were tired of seeing rental properties falling apart because their landlords are not being held accountable for keeping up with their properties.
Reed said when a rental property came open behind his house, he saw people looking at it the very next day. However, because the building was not up to code and had not been able to pass inspection, it took weeks for the property to be ready for use as a rental. He said if the building had been taken care of in the first place, it could have been rented out much sooner. This would benefit the city’s economy as well as its residents.
A multi-faceted solution is already being considered by the council, and it was agreed to bring it to a coming work session.
Also in the council discussion, Councilman Steve Weinhold discussed what was going to be done with the trees on Main Street. A leading arborist in Missouri was contacted about the trees, and Weinhold was told that a selective type of root pruning that would not damage the trees would be the best option.
The price of this would be around $800 a tree, and may cause some sidewalk damage. Sidewalk damage is currently happening on Main Street because of the tree roots growing out. Weinhold noted that it would be cheaper to just cut the trees down, but that they are popular among the city’s residents, and replanting them and growing them back to size would take 20 years or more.
The council decided to bring this issue to a coming work session.
Councilman John Clark commented on the issue of littering and trash around town. He pointed out Park Hills is one of the towns on the way to the landfill, so it is possible that much of this trash is fallout from trucks hauling trash. But Clark said, and many citizens seem to agree, that the trash is a problem and makes the city look bad.
Clark passed around pictures he had taken around town of litter, and said that hopefully Public Works will be able to do something about this problem.
Other items were addressed during the meeting as well. Interim Police Chief Doug Bowles was named the new Emergency Management director, and a motion was passed to update the list of the Park Hills Direction and Control Staff. The council passed a motion to add a stop sign to the intersection of Bryan Street and Field Street, and approved the use of a public street for a Central softball fundraiser in February.
McFarland noted that the final day to sign up to run for council is Jan. 15. There is at least one person signed up from each ward, McFarland said, but they are still accepting applications. Those who have filed so far are Alan Coleman from Ward 1, Larry LaChance from Ward 2, Heather Kurtz from Ward 3, and Donna Dettmer, David Gray, and Jason Reeves, all from Ward 4. Theresa Naucke announced on social media that she filed late Wednesday afternoon for Ward 4.
An ordinance was passed to allow the mayor to execute an agreement with JWC Environmental to purchase materials to repair the sewage treatment facility. It passed, and the city will be spending $27,000 on a new machine. It is deemed a necessity as the current – and only - machine at the sewage facility has completely broken in half.
A bill was passed to amend the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget by repealing the pay matrix and adopting a new pay matrix in lieu thereof. This was to update the minimum wage, which only affects a few full-time city employees, but will have a larger effect on season workers. This amendment increased the minimum wage to $8.60, to match Missouri’s new minimum wage rate.
Councilman Clark mentioned the idea of replacing the city-owned street lights with LED lights, which would last longer and be more effective to maintain. There are only 10 lights that would need to be replaced, and the poles would be able to remain, cutting down the cost.
During the city administrator report, McFarland noted Park Hills’ 25 years of being a city, and included that the list of things he wanted to see happen in 2018 had been approximately 80 percent completed. He stated that the remaining items on the list could be revisited in coming years.