City council okays grant, renews insurance

by Mark Cheffey

The Palmyra City Council authorized applying for federal grant funding, renewed city employee health insurance and approved a new pest extermination law during its regular meeting last Thursday.

By a 5-0 vote, the council authorized the mayor to move forward with applying for Community Development Block Grant funding.

The city is hoping to obtain a $500,000 grant to help fund the replacement of some bridges.

The application, put together with the assistance of the Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments, would obligate the city to match it with $43,000 of city funding along with some in-kind work.

Following the recommendation of the Finance Committee, the council voted 5-0 in favor of renewing for another year its employee health insurance program though Group Benefit Services.

With the renewal, the city’s premium commitment per employee per month will go up a little over $50 to $805.

“It could be worse,” said Mayor Loren Graham.

The committee also received a quote from MIRMA, which provides the city’s liability insurance, but Graham said it fell short of matching the one accepted by the city.

The council also voted 5-0 in favor of giving final approval to a new pest extermination ordinance.

Citing “issues with pest infestation of individual properties affecting adjacent properties,” the law requires building occupants and properties owners to address the pest infestations.

Failure to deal with the pests can result in fines for each day of violation, and the ordinance also provides the city the power to seek court orders to allow the city to conduct pest exterminations with the costs borne by the convicted party.

The council also discussed but took no official action on proposed refinancing the Board of Public Work’s loan used to finance utility upgrades during the past few years.

Following the recommendation of the BPW, the council hopes to refinance the $2.6 million loan with HOMEBANK with a fixed rate of 2.5 percent, down from the current rate of 3.5 percent.

Mayor Graham said the refinancing would save the city more than $100,000 in interest over the term of the loan.

City Attorney James Lemon asked the council to table final action until he can work directly with the bank and finalize the paper work.

It is expected to be approved at the next council meeting Jan. 7.

Lemons told the council Jan. 1 was set as the date to complete the transfer of the municipal court to the county, but indicated Jan. 15 is probably more reasonable considering the work that still needs to be done to complete the transfer.

It was announced that Chuck Anderson, a former building inspector for Hannibal, has accepted the same position in Palmyra, replacing Rick Jones, who recently resigned. 

Police Chief Eddie Bogue reported he met with Jones, Anderson and Lemons concerning a building on Short Street, which has yet to be awarded an occupancy permit, but is occupied.

Bogue said it was decided to start the enforcement process and that a letter was sent to the owner giving 45 days to comply with city law requiring a fire suppression system be installed.

Bogue also told the council the new squad car is equipped and on the street and that Officer Mitch Carey had graduated from the police academy and  was to start to work Dec. 21. 

Mayor Graham reported the proposed Stone Creek Manor project planned by Ed Dent for the north side of the courthouse square failed to receive requested tax credits and is no longer viable.

Street Commissioner Austin Dornberger reported his department’s new dump truck was expected to be delivered this week.