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The City of California Board of Aldermen had plenty of business to take care of during a three-hour open portion of its September meeting last Tuesday.

The agenda item of most consequence was regarding preliminary work to begin replacement at the city's wastewater treatment plant. The issue has been discussed in earnest at previous meetings throughout the past year, as the plant is in serious need of work. The city still has access to more than $4 million in unused bonding funds, mayor Rich Green said, which could be supplemented with state and federal grant dollars to help complete any future work. The board agreed to meet again for a special session later in September after getting a rough cost and scope of work for the project.

A number of other items were included among the lengthy list of new business items presented to the board last week. The board was treated to a presentation from Hunter Hampton with EagleView, a geospatial software, aerial imagery and analytics company that will be assisting the Moniteau County Assessor's Office with facilitating aerial photography of the county late this year or in early 2022. The assessor's office updates its geospatial imagery database every three to four years, Moniteau County Assessor Marcy Oerly informed the board, and municipal governmental bodies and other entities across the county typically help with the cost since they can also make use of the data in governmental application. The board agreed to contribute $5,000 toward the project.

The board also discussed adding stop signs at Smith Street and Industrial Street both east and west. California Police Department Chief Daniel Hurt informed the board that something like a three-way stop would be a good idea to eliminate speeding along what is typically a busy road. However, after some discussion, the motion failed to pass 2-4, with alderwomen Resa Dudley and Lorrie Grimes the only board members voting to approve.

The board also approved service for the California Fire Department's new ladder truck's intake valves through Sentinel Emergency Solutions at a cost of $3,325. The approved bid, which will need to be reflected in a budget amendment, was recommended by interim CFD Chief Brad Friedmeyer.

The group also discussed roofing projects, noting that there are some structures more in need of work than those at the city ball fields, which the board has discussed fixing at prior meetings. There are, for example, leaks at city hall and the city pool, which the board agreed to pivot toward focusing on for the time being. A purchase of shingles for one roof, located at the gazebo at the nearby park, was approved at a cost of around $4,900.

The board also approved a street closure for Sept. 25 — Third Street will be closed on the side of the California Eagles' building from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., in conjunction with a benefit event taking place there that day.

The board also approved a one-year renewal for a CD account with Central Bank carrying $4,054.47 at a rate of 0.45 percent interest per year.

In old business, the board agreed to move forward with pursuing grant funding to purchase AED machines; the city currently has two in total, and Green said he felt it prudent to have more on hand to account for ambulance wait times.

The board also discussed its recently-approved COVID-19 protocols, voting last week to require city employees who display COVID symptoms to either provide a negative COVID test or go home and use their sick leave. Previous federal orders asking municipalities to waive sick leave usage requirements when employees are out with the virus or as a close contact have expired, and board members noted there is no longer an "obligation" to continue to do so.

The board also discussed adding performance-based evaluations that could reward merit-based raises to outstanding employees, along with the city's typical raises based upon longevity or other across-the-board yearly raises. City supervisors provided some feedback, and board members ultimately were hesitant about implementing anything yet. The group agreed to gather further feedback this month and revisit the topic at a future meeting.

Finally, the board approved adding a hallway door with bulletproof glass and a diffuser for communicating at the interior CPD entrance in city hall.

Ordinances passed — along with one codifying the street closure for the Sept. 25 benefit event — included an ordinance aligning with state law regarding how long liquor sales can remain open on Sundays and an ordinance establishing a building code for "small or tiny structures" intended for non-residential use.

In department reports, the board spent some time discussing how to make pay for city employees more competitive; that included some discussion about increasing either or both of across-the-board and starting pay. The group agreed to spend some more time researching how specific amounts would affect the budget more before making any decisions.

In the water and sewer department, the board approved $4,646 for work at the Gerhart Road pump station. Also, a long-discussed smoke study following up on one from a decade ago will take place in California Sept. 20-22.

In parks and recreation, the board approved raising the city pool entrance fee from $1 to $3; the former amount was the lowest in the area, Recreation Supervisor Leslie Scheidt said. The group will discuss seasonal admission passes at a later date. In the same department, games will be added to the end of the recreational flag football season since Labor Day weekend rains led to cancellations to start the season.

During City Clerk Aimee Hill's report, the board approved adopting earthquake insurance coverage at a cost of $2,482 and an increase in cyber liability coverage, adding $975 in cost to the city's existing $256 plan. Hill also informed the board that the city had received its first payment of aid dollars through the American Rescue Plan in the amount of $445,542.54. Finally, the group approved ordering gift boxes from Burgers' Smokehouse as holiday gifts for city employees again for this year. The board will wait to decide whether it will host its traditional dinner for employees or go with a higher bonus like last year until a later date, in order to better account for the status of active COVID cases later this year.

The Board of Aldermen's next regular meeting is set for Monday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.

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