Aldermen hear reports about electric, OATS funding

By Dennis Minich
During a work session prior to its regular meeting Monday night, the Harrisonville Board of Aldermen learned about three issues, two of which could have financial implications for the city.
The final discussion was the Harrisonville Villas development (see related story), but first the board heard the results of rate study about the city’s electric department and about the future of the OATS bus program in the city.
The electric study was authorized by the board in October and was the first such study done in 15 years. Craig Waychesse of Toth Engineering of Springfield reported on the company’s findings.
The preliminary study indicated the current fee structure will keep the city’s electric department “in the black” through 2022, but without increases, the city would run a deficit through the projected timeline which ran until 2029.
Rates were compared for individual, commercial and industrial customers. The board was informed a rate increase of 1 percent per year would keep the department profitable and by phasing in increases at 1 percent per year, customers wouldn’t be hit the shock of a several percent increase in future years.
The board took no action on the report.
Sara Davis, the regional manager for OATS talked to the board about the program and to put an end to “the wild rumors” which have circulated about the service.
“I am not here asking for money, but I am asking for help for a company which has been here since 1971,” Davis said.
“We started a route in Harrisonville with one small bus. Since then, our in-town route has grown to two buses and thousands of trips per year.
“We used to run the route five days per week, but after the government shutdown in January we cut it to three days per week. We are still three days per week and we intend to keep it at least three days per week.”
Davis explained the city’s route is funded through a 5311 grant through the state of Missouri.
That budget was cut statewide and since it was the only governmental money for the Harrisonville route, the loss of two days was necessary.
She did tell the board other city’s pay shares.
“But even those are subsidized,” she said. “The top contract is $30 per hour, but my cost is about $42 per hour.”
She said Harrisonville’s route “kind of built itself up” and that she would like to see five days of service re-stores, but would need help.
During the regular meeting the board approved a $16,291 purchase of a radial arm mower for the parks and recreation department.
The board also approved a routine ordinance concerning conflict-of-interest disclosures. And Brett Reece was named to fill a vacancy on the park board.

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