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Holts Summit debates water, animal codes

Holts Summit debates water, animal codes

August 10th, 2018 by Seth Wolfmeyer in Local News

Holts Summit City Hall at 213 South Summit Drive

Photo by Connor Pearson /News Tribune.

The Holts Summit Board of Aldermen debated two new ordinances Thursday, holding a first read on an agreement with Callaway Water District No. 1 to shut off water to residents in cases of delinquent sewer payments and an addition to the city's animal code to provide disposition hearings for seized animal.

Holts Summit receives water through the water district, but handles its own sewer system. However, if the agreement discussed by the aldermen is approved, residents could face their water service being shut off due to lack of payments on their sewer bills.

Currently, when a resident is delinquent on their sewer bill, Holts Summit will insert and inflate a ball to block their sewer line. However, City Administrator Matt Harline said that solution can cause damage.

"If the water is shut off, you know, people are uncomfortable," Harline said. "If the sewer is blocked, you can put sewer in somebody's basement or garage or something."

The costs of having a property's water shut off would be passed on to the resident, Harline said. According to the agreement presented Thursday, Holts Summit would be responsible for the cost of disconnection — currently $30 — and reimbursing the water district for revenue lost from shutting off residents' water. However, the city will only need to pay the costs if a resident is delinquent on sewer payments and not also water.

"The water district is willing to do this, and they basically drafted the agreement," Harline said.

As part of the agreement, the water district will disconnect water service to a resident after 60 days without payment for sewer bills. Holts Summit is also required to give a resident 30 days written notice.

Harline said the city could have set the disconnection at 90 days, but decided it could lead to residents being even more in debt and unable to pay the full amount.

The proposed addition to Holts Summit's animal code would replace a section providing disposition hearings for animals taken due to abuse or neglect that was accidentally removed last year. Without the section, Harline said it can be difficult for the city to enforce rules laid out in the code.

"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."

If passed, the section would require a disposition hearing within 30 days of an animal being seized due to abandonment or cruelty. A notice to the animal's owner must be hand delivered, mailed or place on their residence.

If the animal is not to be returned to the owner by ruling, it may be put up for adoption. The owner may waive their right to a hearing by signed affidavit and automatically waive that right by failing to pay impoundment fees.

During the meeting, the aldermen also authorized Holts Summit to continue using the services of accounting firm Evers and Company, costs not exceeding $5,000, to help straighten the city's books before paying for an audit later this year. Harline said the use of different accounting software and new city staff coming into position has lead to some difficulties with the city's accounting.

Holts Summit had been past its deadline to turn in a financial statement for the past year to the state auditor, but turned one in earlier this month before receiving any fines.

"If you look at it really quickly if (the financial statement) was absolutely right, we took in $1 million in the general fund and spent ($1.5 million)," Harline said. "That's not a trend we can keep. I believe that there are some expenditures that were paid out of the general fund that were really supposed to be paid out of some other funds. And we'll correct those errors."

Another action the aldermen took Thursday was to bring two banking accounts left over from Lake Mykee before it was added to Holts Summit and move them into a city account. The accounts hold roughly $43,000 combined, Harline told the aldermen.

"(The money) is still going to go to Lake Mykee," Mayor Landon Oxley said. "(We're) just trying to make it more simple."