Aldermen authorize pumper purchase

By: 
Dave Marner
Managing Editor

Owensville aldermen on Monday authorized volunteer fire department officers to buy a used pumper truck from Washington’s fleet to replace one totalled out in a crash this winter and enacted an ordinance which will repeal a tax levy for park operations after recent voter approval of an increase to the designated park sales tax.

Aldermen held public hearings for two requests previously presented before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. No opposition or comments were directed toward a voluntary annexation request sought by the Helping Hands Outreach Center (HHOC) for property recently purchased at 3522 Kosark Road and a request for a conditional use permit for a operating a small retail business in a storefront at 204 South First Street. 

The conditional use request was authorized by motion later in the meeting. 

The annexation request will be approved by ordinance at the city’s May 20 meeting. The city is required to wait at least 14 business days from the time of the public hearing until annexation requests are approved by ordinance. The site will be zoned C-2 “highway commercial,” according to Travis Hernandez, the city’s contracted engineer with Archer-Elgin.

Aldermen approved official results from the April 2 Municipal Election including the 121-111 approval of a sales tax increase from one-quarter to one-half cent for park operations. The proposal also eliminates a designated personal property and real estate tax levy for park operation. This past fiscal year that portion of a resident’s taxes was 33.58 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

The sales tax increase proposal also reduces the authority of the city’s appointed Park Board from an administrative one to an advisory group. Elected city officials will now control spending of all park funds.

Ward 2 Alderman Charles (Rob) Borgmann and Ward 1 Alderman Kevin McFadden were sworn in to fresh two-year terms. Borgmann, who received 85 votes in an unopposed election, is beginning his sixth term and retains his position as president of the board following a nomination from McFadden and a second from Denise Bohl, alderman in the second ward. Ward 1’s Cathy Lahmeyer was absent.

“Rob has got to be one of the longest serving aldermen,” said Mayor John Kamler.. “Thank you for serving.”

McFadden, who was appointed to the board in the spring of 2018 to fill out an unexpired term, was elected to his first full term with 115 votes. He was also unopposed.

Jeff Arnold, the city’s emergency management agency director and a member of the volunteer fire department, received authorization from aldermen to purchase a used 1995 Pierce pumper truck from the city of Washington, Mo., for $39,500. Arnold, assistant chief, told aldermen the city of Washington needed a $10,000 down payment to hold the truck for Owensville.

Arnold told aldermen the purchase would help the department “fill the void” from the loss of their pumper in an off-road roll-over incident on Route EE.

Aldermen had earlier this year authorized Owensville fire officials to spend up to $50,000 on a used rig. A used piece of fire equipment in Texas which was being considered “fell through,” said Arnold. He said the department’s truck committee is anticipating needing $380,000 for a new rig, outfitted with a commercial cab configuration for transporting firemen, which will require a 12 to 15-month construction period once an order is placed. Fire committee members are expected to bring back a request for final approval to order a new truck by July 1.

The city’s 2019 budget for fire department operations includes “roughly $219,000” in a reserve fund for new equipment, according to a report at the city’s March 4 meeting when the damaged fire truck was discussed. The city’s insurance carrier paid the city $51,111 after the $1,000 deductible to settle the claim for the totalled out 2004 rig.

A Missouri State Highway Patrol report on the crash ruled it accidental. Interviews of two of the three crew members on the truck that morning indicated there was no explanation for why the truck went off the road other than the wheels going onto the narrow shoulder of Route EE, causing the truck to eventually go onto its side in the ditch.

None of the three firemen in the truck that morning were injured.

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