Alcohol and water top the discussion at Joplin City Council meeting

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JOPLIN, Mo.–Alcohol and water were the at the top of the discussion at Monday night’s Joplin City Council meeting.

The council began with a decision to approve an alcohol vendor’s license to Main Street Axe Company, a Pittsburg-based axe-throwing company that will soon be opening in downtown Joplin. Company representatives were present to answer any questions and address any concerns the council had on the issue–mostly those addressing city and state policies that require alcohol vendors to be a certain distance from schools, churches, and hospitals. All members but mayor Gary Shaw voted in favor of the resolution, with the decision ending in an 8-1 vote.

The next item on the agenda was an overview of the canvass results from last week’s special election that approved a half-cent sales tax hike to support pension plans for Joplin police and fire staff. Voters approved the proposition with more than 3,300 in favor. At the end of the meeting, Shaw applauded the Joplin community for rallying together to support local first responders–even if it means paying a price. The approved tax rate will go into effect April 1st of next year.

Finally, city leaders reviewed the wastewater rate study from the past five years, focusing on capital improvements based on the city’s five-year plan from 2014. These included advancements on both the Turkey Creek and Shoal Creek clean-up projects, replacing boilers and generators for the city’s treatment system, and installing the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system that allows for officials to closely monitor the collection system.

The Public Works department hired Burns & McDonnell, a privately-owned company based out of Kansas City, to conduct the study and evaluate utility costs to generate a continuing five-year plan. The study took in factors including previous and current utility rates of city residents, along with data from national sewer rates and trends to project an ideal rate that would help meet the city’s future operating and capital utility costs.

The report concluded with a proposed rate based on data found in the study that would help offset utility costs and generate city revenue. The proposed rate would see a five percent rate increase, every year for the next five years beginning in April 2020. According to city data, the average rate for utilities that residents pay currently sits at just below $42. If the rate were to pass, residents would see about two more dollars added onto their utility bill every year until 2024–boosting the final average rate up to roughly $53.50. The proposal will come back to council in December for a first hearing.

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