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story.lead_photo.caption California Fire Chief Allen Smith poses for a May 2017 photo. Photo by Lucie Willsie / California Democrat.

The City of California Board of Aldermen met Tuesday, July 6, where a stalwart in public service announced his upcoming retirement.

California Fire Department Chief Allen Smith informed the board he plans to retire later this year after 37 years of service. Smith has been the CFD chief since 1984.

"I really struggled with this, and I knew that one day it would hit me," Smith said last week.

Earlier in the meeting, the board approved another utility rate hike — a 15 percent increase in sanitation rates, which takes effect Sept. 1. Residential rates, for example, would jump from $15 to $17.25, commercial rates from $17 to $19.55, and pay bags from $1.65 each to $1.90 each. Rates for various dumpster sizes will reflect the 15 percent increase across the board. The move will also change the billing for pick-up of larger items, which previously reflected an extra pick-up fee of $6.50 per additional hopper. Under the new rates, customers will be charged a flat rate of $17 for the first five minutes of pick-up and $2 per minute of additional pick-up time.

The city's residential, commercial and standalone dumpster rates haven't seen an increase since 2008, Street Supervisor Victor Maurer said last Tuesday.

Other new business on the agenda included approving a pair of agreements and tabling a bid until next month. The board will wait to discuss planned roofing improvements at the park gazebo and city ball field until August. The board approved agreements with Republic Services for disposal services for five years, at a 3 percent annual increase in years two through five, and with Bartlett & West, Inc. for engineering services for the industrial park wastewater lift station project.

The board also discussed the city's slate of paid holidays. An eleventh paid holiday was added to the list this year after Juneteenth was made a federal holiday last month. The board agreed to stick with 11 paid holidays for city employees starting with this year.

The board heard from representatives with Moniteau County's 4-H Day of Service committee, who asked for the city's blessing to move forward with planned street closures — the block outside the Moniteau County Historical Society on South St. and the block of High Street that runs by the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office — around Latham Memorial Family Park for the group's 9-11 commemorative ceremony. The board encouraged the group to check with the sheriff's office, since High Street being closed to traffic may affect the office.

A number of ordinances passed at last week's meeting. One establishes a procedure to monitor and register deteriorated, vacant and abandoned structures in the city, and another officially codifies the city's new wastewater rates, effective as of the first day of the billing cycle represented on the Aug. 1 billing. Another ordinance approved the agreement with Bartlett & West for engineering services.

In department reports, Water & Sewer Supervisor Kyle Wirts informed the board he's learned of a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) grant opportunity. The city could receive up to $10,999 for fluorite equipment, which the board approved.

In the Wastewater Department, work on the aeration basin project was delayed due to the volume of rainwater in recent weeks. Wastewater Supervisor Patrick Murphy said he hoped there might be some opportunity for down time in August to work on it.

The board, when discussing the California Police Department, expressed frustration with how long the hiring process is taking to bring in new officers. Board members agreed the process is important, but needs to be streamlined in order to give the understaffed CPD some more help.

For the CFD, Smith said the department plans to add decals to its new truck obtained from the Columbia Fire Department. There were some items were recommended for refurbishing the vehicle, but they totaled around $42,000 and were not reflected in the budget; Smith said he thought the department could get by without doing it for the year and perhaps revisit the project down the road.

Recreation Supervisor Leslie Scheidt informed the board the new heater for the city pool was expected to arrive and be installed last Wednesday.

Finally, the board approved adding a no parking sign on Ryan Street from Main to North on the east side.

The Board of Aldermen will meet for its next regular monthly meeting Monday, Aug. 2 at 6 p.m. The meeting time has been moved to earlier in the evening due to the Moniteau County Fair.

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