July electric rates decreased in Salem due to favorable pricing obtained through the city’s electric purchasing pool, it was reported at last week’s board of aldermen meeting.

City administrator Ray Walden said electric bills reflected a decrease of 8.7 percent last month, which was automatically applied by ordinance based on changes in the wholesale cost of electricity.

“Additional savings are expected as we get our AMI system in place,” he said. “We expect to start replacing electric meters in September and water meters in October.”

More information will be shared soon on service interruptions required as part of the meter change-outs, he said.

In other business, aldermen set a slightly lower tax rate for 2019 of 65.22 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, down from 65.33 cents last year, after a public hearing. The drop is in response to an increase in assessed valuation in the city.

Under the Hancock Amendment, cities cannot take in more property tax than the previous year—except for new construction—and are required to reduce their tax levies when property values increase due to reassessment.

The board also awarded the Rolla Road Transportation Alternatives Program sidewalk project to Donald Maggi Inc., the low bidder, for $322,484 on the recommendation of the city’s engineering firm, Archer Elgin, pending a finalized contract.

The vote authorized MoDOT to proceed with a contract with Maggi that will come back to the board for final approval. The engineer’s estimate on the project was $339,631.

Bids ranging up to $437,541 were opened July 23. The project involves construction of a sidewalk, a road crossing with push button signalization, curb and gutter and drainage infrastructure along from Salem High School east to Salem Community Center @ the Armory.

In other action, the board set the first public workshop on the new nuisance ordinance for 6 p.m. Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day, in the council chambers prior to the board of aldermen meeting.

West Ward alderman Kenneth Nash asked if an hour would be enough time. Walden said it was, with the first workshop providing an overview for new aldermen on existing ordinances and seeking input from the public on nuisance priorities. There will be multiple workshops, he said. “I want plenty of time to hear from the public,” Nash said.

Walden also reported that he is waiting on an engineering update for the downtown sidewalk and street light project. Once electric requirements are finalized, the first section of streets will be put out for bid.

“We’ll keep the public apprised of the project’s status including plans to make access for businesses in the project area during construction,” he told the board.

The first phase is on the south side of Fourth Street between Highway 19 and Iron Street. “We’re pressing our engineer pretty hard to get that out for bid,” Walden said.

Several submissions have been received after advertising for qualification proposals for city attorney and prosecutor, engineering services and design consulting services for the city administration building and old city hall, he said, with tabulations being prepared for aldermen to look at as soon as they’re ready.

Walden said the city appreciates the support for the seat campaign at the old auditorium. Donations are needed for more 50 seats before they can be ordered. Door hardware is being updated in the main auditorium, along with the purchase of new ceiling tiles and auditorium lights.

In another move, the board voted to amend the current fireworks ordinance to include any event approved by the board of aldermen on a case-by-case basis. The current ordinance is limited to the city’s July 4 display and home football games.

The decision was prompted by a request by First Baptist Church to hold a fireworks show as part of its Fall Fest Spectacular Oct. 5 and also close West First and North Grand streets for one hour for the event.

The revised ordinance will be up for consideration at the Aug. 19 meeting. The Fall Fest request will be taken up after the ordinance is acted on.

The board also approved the purchase of a new 2019 Dodge Charger Pursuit police car from Landmark Dodge at the state bid price of $25,180. With the recent purchase of a Ford Explorer police vehicle, there are still sufficient funds left in the budgeted amount to cover the purchase, Walden said.

The car is equipped with all-wheel drive and a 5.7 liter Hemi engine with an active fuel management system that reduces its operation to four cylinders for more fuel-efficient in-town driving, Sgt. Joe Chase told the board.

Aldermen also gave the police department permission to seek a nearly $10,000 Local Law Enforcement Block Grant for the purchase of new portable radios able to communicate with the sheriff’s office. There would be no cost to the city.

Three radios with the ability to operate on the 700-800 Mhz range and also on the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network would be obtained if the grant is awarded, Chase said.

The board also:

• Heard a report on trailer court licenses from city clerk Mary Happel stating a license has been issued for the court at 703 S. Pershing owned by Central Missouri Investments. The board voted to wait on issuing a license to the Park Street Trailer Park until all violations are cleared up.

• Approved an ordinance to execute a state block grant agreement with MoDOT for the design and construction of taxi lanes for t-hangars, first phase, at Salem Memorial Airport. The 90-10 grant is for $88,119 with a city match of $9,790.