winter city council

Public Works Left in a Vacuum after Tuesday’s Council Meeting

City Council Recap 01/18/2022

An opening prayer by Chad Wagner was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jason Van Till was appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission filling the vacancy left by Sylvia Eales. Van Till will finish out the term which expires 9/30/22. 

Julia Goldstein was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission and fills the vacancy left by Pat Slusher. Goldstein will finish out the term expiring 9/30/24.

Sgt. Jeremiah Renne, Support Services Commander for the Excelsior Springs Police Department brought forth a resolution authorizing the purchase of three new police vehicles. Renne read the request stating, “the Police Department customarily replaces three of our aging and highest mileage vehicles every year to keep our fleet modern and to minimize repair costs.” According to the council letter, the Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee unanimously approved funds of up to $170,000.00 for police vehicle replacements from the approved budget. The council authorized the purchase of three Dodge Police vehicles, one sedan, and two utility vehicles, from Landmark Dodge. Landmark Dodge in Independence, Missouri is the selected State of Missouri bidder for Dodge vehicles. The total cost of these three vehicles is expected to be $94,975.90. Because of supply demands, the vehicles will be scheduled for delivery in 90-180 days. Sgt. Renne also stated that proceeds from the sale of the decommissioned vehicles will be returned to the Public Safety Sales Tax Oversight Committee fund to help offset some of the cost of the new vehicles. 

The request to purchase police vehicles was passed unanimously 5-0

Chad Birdsong, Public Works Director, brought forth a resolution for the lease/purchase of a new Combination Vacuum Truck. Birdsong stated “this truck is an essential part of flushing sanitary sewers, storm drains, curb inlets, and manholes.  Staff also uses it to vacuum excavate for water leaks and assist in water main repairs.”  In his verbal request, Birdsong emphasized the importance of this piece of equipment saying that his crews use the Combination Vacuum Truck on average of 5 to 7 hours per day. Birdsong suggested that the needed equipment be procured from Red Equipment LLC the nearest Missouri HGAC BUY certified supplier in our area. According to their website, HGAC BUY is:

a nationwide, government procurement service striving to make the governmental procurement process more efficient. Units of local government, including non-profits providing governmental services, are eligible to become participating members of the HGACBuy Cooperative. All contracts available to participating members of HGAC Buy have been awarded by virtue of a public competitive procurement process compliant with state statutes.

The contract price for vacuum trucks set by HGAC BUY is $424,222.00. Red Equipment offered to beat the HGAC BUY contract price and quoted a price of $413,065.00. However, this amount still exceeded the $400,000.00 set aside in this year’s budget specifically for this purchase. Birdsong suggested a three-year lease to purchase arrangement which would be equal to $146,649.52 annually which would have started in February of 2023 and totaled $439,948.56.  Birdsong noted this would allow Public Works to maintain their yearly budget.

The request for lease-purchase was met by questions from Councilman Stephen Spear who asked Birdsong if purchasing from Red Equipment was “the only option.” Spear then stated that he was looking at a website for a commercial truck dealer that offered a similar truck for “substantially lower” but then added, “this is not my industry.” Spear went on to ask about the possibility of a “timeshare” where Excelsior Springs Public Works might share this equipment with a nearby community. It was reiterated that the equipment is used on average 5-7 hours per day and sharing the equipment would likely be unfeasible. After some discussion Mayor Sharon Powell pointed out to Spear, “It’s no different than what we did just on the previous (resolution) with police cars using the state of Missouri awards, it’s the same principle you did not question that one.”

The debate over the Vacuum Truck continued for approximately 10 more minutes. Councilwoman Sonya Morgan eventually made a motion to approve the purchase which was met by silence from the remaining council members. It should be noted that at the time of the motion, councilman Brent McElwee, who had been in attendance via video conferencing software, appeared to be offline. After a long silence, and no second on the motion, the meeting moved forward with no vote taken on the resolution, leaving Birdsong and Public Works with no clear answer on how to proceed. 

In a follow-up phone call on Friday, January 21, Birdsong said he is gathering more information and justification to present to the council for discussion at a future meeting. He said Public Works is hopeful they can work with the council towards a planned schedule of replacement for equipment similar to what other city departments follow, and establish whether it is more cost-effective to buy new or used equipment.

Laura Mize, with the Community Development Council, brought forth a change in ordinances that would establish a registry for vacant residential properties with code violations. According to Mize, “This registry would enable Neighborhoods and Code Compliance staff to identify vacant properties that contribute to blight in a neighborhood and provide a means to address the violations.” Documents submitted to the council on the matter stated the registration fee would be semi-annual in the amount of $200 in accordance with Missouri law. Mize pointed out that property registration fees have proven to be more efficient than citations because the penalty can be issued immediately rather than requiring court appearances and fines. Mize noted that the ordinance does have a “Time to Cure provision” which allows property owners 30 days to bring code violations into compliance. The change in ordinance was approved by the council 5-0

Finally, City Manager, Molly McGovern on behalf of Excelsior Springs Hospital CEO presented to the council a grant application for the fiscal year 2021, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), a FEMA program. The application would fund the installation of a microgrid, an alternate energy source that would protect the hospital from a power outage. The City is required to be the sub-applicant to SEMA, who is the applicant.  An agreement between the city and hospital has been prepared to assume that the grant flows through the city’s books for the requirements of the Single Audit and the hospital is responsible for everything else.  SEMA has requested the City provide a Financial Commitment Letter for the required 25% funding match and annual O & M.  The ordinance approving the agreement between the City and Hospital and a Resolution approving the local match assurance for the BRIC Grant were both approved by the council 5-0.

Closing remarks were made by Mayor Powell and the meeting was adjourned.

Excelsior Springs City Council Meetings are held on the first and third Monday of each month at 6:00 PM. Meetings are streamed courtesy of the Excelsior Citizen on our Facebook Group, Facebook Page, YouTube Channel, and at Due to the Federal Holiday, this week’s council meeting was moved to 6:00 PM Tuesday, January 18. For City Council meeting agendas visit the city website.

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