By Dennis Minich
The Harrisonville Board of Aldermen voted Monday night to spend $2.6 million to plan and construct improvements on Lake Luna and City Lake in City Park. The spillways and dams have been points of concern in recent months because damage is increasing creating a flood concern and a breach could be imminent should another major rain event strike in the near future.
City Engineer Ted Martin explained the money would be used to replace the spillways on both lakes and rebuild the dam at City Lake and to dredge Lake Luna. The city plans to pay for the project out of a water/sewer fund bond package expected to come before the board later in the year.
City Administrator Brad Ratliff explained the city was in essence borrowing money from itself. “We have got to get on these projects as quick as we can,” Ratliff said. “We need to get to the construction phase so this gives us the ability to pay back the funds as soon as the funds become available.” The lake projects, along with a regional detention basin on the city’s south side, are being included in the proposed water/sewer bonds as infiltration and inflow from flood waters are a major peril to the city’s sanitary sewer system.
Only Alderman David Dickerson spoke and voted against the plan. He objected to the plan for the board to vote on the bond issue instead of putting it to a public vote. “I think any time this much money is being spent, it should go to a vote of the people. I don’t think we should spend this kind of money,” he said.
The total bond issue is expected to approach $10 million and besides the lake and detention pond, will include improvements to the sewer plant as well as new lines.
The bond issue payments were included in a rate plan which was presented to the board by the engineering firm of Burns and McDonnell. The study had been authorized earlier in the year to determine if rates for the water system and sewer system were self-sustaining and what would be required in the future. The board was told the national average is about 5 percent per year increase in water and sewer rates. The proposed plan by Burns and McDonnell will call for a 2.5 percent increase in water rates and a 5 percent annual increase in sewer rates.
The board also voted on the tax levy for 2021.The board approved a levy of $.6612 per $100 of assessed valuation. During the current year, the levy was $.6425. Ratliff said the new levy will create a “slight increase” in real estate and personal property taxes. While exact numbers were not available, assessment of “slight” would be logical as the assessed value of existing properties in the city rose by less than 1 percent this year.
The levy plan passed 5-3 with aldermen Dickerson, Clint Miller and Matt Turner voting no.
In other business, the board:
• Heard the results of an audit of fiscal year 2019.
• Approved plans for the annual Log Cabin Festival planned for Oct. 2-3. Police Chief John Hofer told the board the Chamber of Commerce, the event’s sponsors, are requesting the go-ahead to make arrangements, but a final decision on the event would come at the chamber’s September meeting.
• Voted to re-appoint Tony Meister and Kevin Stucker to the board of building and engineering appeals and appointed Michael Weaver, Dee Shelton and Larry Pfautsch to the enhanced enterprise zone board.
• Approved using The South Cass Tribune as the city’s official paper of record.