After a series of resignations rocked Mokane in June, leaving only two aldermen remaining amid rising concerns from residents, the town has maintained a consistent group of city leaders and is making progress on resolving its water and sewer issues.
In the past 7 months, the Mokane Board of Aldermen appointed two aldermen to empty seats, named Jo Belmont as mayor, brought on a new city clerk, purchased a new pump house and started a website for the town. Mokane also has been receiving clean bacteria reports with its water system, recently switched to a new billing system, and flushed the water lines last month as it works to replace aging pipes.
Belmont said Mokane already has a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant ready to help pay for a project to fix the town's sewer system and is waiting for USDA to approve engineering plans on the water system for an additional grant. The plan is to work both projects at the same time, putting the sewer renovation on hold until the grant for the water system is approved, she added.
However, Mokane still has multiple issues to resolve and needed improvements to make. After the enforcement of late fees on water and sewer payments brought the number of delinquent of accounts to a handful last year, it has climbed again after the town stopped applying late fees.
Belmont said Mokane needs to bring back late fees to water and sewer payments, with the threat of discontinuation of service without payment, but it is difficult to do so. Paying for someone to do the work of cutting of service can be expensive, if someone can be found, and the effect of stopping service could damage the aged pipes, causing a larger issue.
"I completely support that it's out of control again," Belmont said about delinquent water and sewer payments.
During an aldermen meeting Monday, confusion over a general fund savings account also posed a problem. The bank the town government uses did not have an account on hand, despite previous meeting minutes showing one with more than $50,000.
Resolving the question of that account is a priority for Mokane in 2019, Belmont said during the meeting, as well as renovation city hall, continuing work on the water and sewer systems, and performing road work.