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City Council discusses California municipal court's future

City Council discusses California municipal court's future

September 13th, 2017 by David Wilson in Local News

The matter of the California Municipal Court was discussed by the Board of Aldermen, at its regular monthly meeting Sept. 2.

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled on several changes, which need to be made in the operation of municipal courts. The ruling, made in September 2016, was supposed to go into effect July 1.

Enforcement apparently has been delayed, because of the large number of small cities which have been unable to decide how to handle the required changes.

As a result of setting minimum operating standards for municipal courts, some of the changes are proving to be a major difficulty for many communities.

The California aldermen are in the process of deciding whether to continue operating a municipal court, which would require a court clerk to be on duty at least 30 hours each week, or for all of the municipal cases to go to the Associate Circuit Court.

The municipal court clerk can't do any work which could be considered a conflict of interest, whether actual, or apparent. For California, this means that the city police clerk could no longer serve as municipal court clerk.

Much of the discussion was whether it would be best to keep local control over the operation of the court, in spite of the cost of the salary and benefits for the position, including health insurance, or send all of the municipal cases to the Associate Circuit Court.

If all municipalities send their municipal cases to the county, it could cause a large increase in the number of cases on the docket. In an average year, there would be about 400 cases added to the Associate Court Docket from California and 150 from Tipton.

There were several items of other business.

Auditor Seth Chitwood of Gerding, Korte and Chitwood, CPA's, reported that the auditor have rendered an "unmodified opinion." He said this was a good opinion, with the statement that is given every year, that the city lacks the personnel to segregate the reporting adequately. The council approved the report. In answer to a question, he said it would require two more positions in the city clerks' office to meet the standards for adequate segregation.

Bids for the used city pickup were opened, with the council approving awarding the bid to high bidder Rodney Fulks for the $4,335.

The 2016 sanitary sewer project is complete. Final payment is awaiting some documentation.

Recycling was discussed, with both the possibility of curbside recycling and an additional recycling drop-off location considered. Boonslick Industries Inc., Boonville, said that it could possibly set up an additional recycling drop-off location in California. The city is charged $60 a month for the current site, located behind the city hall facility.

If another is set up, it was reported that it probably would be about double the current costs for the city. It will take several months to set up, since the recycling firm would need to obtain the trailer and bins necessary for the second location, plus an additional truck for pickup. The individual curbside pickup would be much more expensive.

The exercise equipment at the east shelter house location in Proctor Park was discussed. The handicapped accessible swing is not installed yet, since it is waiting for some additional parts to make it double.

The "Wiggle Walk" is being changed. It now consists of several steps, described as "mushrooms," for people to walk on. Several of the steps wiggle, when stepped on. Several people have reported that they have almost fallen. As a result, the council voted 3-3 to make the "wiggle walk" solid, so that people are less likely to fall. Mayor Norris Gerhart broke the tie, so that the "wiggle walk" will no longer wiggle.

The next regular monthly meeting will be Oct. 2.