An ordinance allowing meetings to be cancelled in the event of an emergency or inclement weather was approved by the board of aldermen last week.
The ordinance allows weather cancellations on days Salem R-80 Schools close for snow or other inclement conditions. It also gives the mayor the authority to cancel meetings, with approval of the board president, due to emergencies and bad weather.
It stems from a situation last month when the board attempted to meet on a night when icy road conditions prevented two aldermen from attending and the meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum. The members in attendance directed staff to draft an ordinance to allow weather cancellations, city administrator Ray Walden reported at last week’s meeting.
The board considered a similar policy last December after mayor Brad Nash canceled a meeting when there was little on the agenda to discuss. But the city attorney advised the board that, according to state law, aldermen had to actually hold a meeting just to cancel a meeting. No further action on a cancellation policy was taken at that time.
After last month’s cancellation for lack of a quorum, Walden researched the issue and found other cities with weather policies in place. The ordinance was approved by a 3-0 vote, with alderman Kenneth Nash absent.
The ordinance states that “on days Salem R-80 Schools close due to inclement weather, all scheduled board of aldermen meetings and other city meetings will be cancelled,” and gives the mayor and board president authority to cancel or postpone meetings due to emergencies and inclement weather.
Also approved was a resolution allowing city offices to close for inclement weather. It authorizes the mayor to declare a work delay, early dismissal or cancellation of a work day, except for essential personnel. In the mayor’s absence, the board president has that authority. The resolution also addresses the accounting of employee work time in such cases.
Essential personnel are defined as police officers and public works employees engaged in snow removal, maintaining utility services or performing needed cemetery services. Those employees are expected to report to work and remain on duty in inclement weather unless released by the mayor or board president.
Decisions to close city offices will be communicated through local print, radio and social media, the resolution states.
Support personnel are not required to work during a work delay, early dismissal or cancellation and will receive their normal rate of pay for their normal daily schedule. Employees should report all hours actually worked and use the pay code WTHR for hours covered by a delay, early dismissal or cancellation.
Essential personnel required to work those days will be paid and also receive “comp” time off from work, with their supervisor’s approval, that they can use within a six-month period following the weather event.
Granting comp time doesn’t produce extra cost for the city and is only a scheduling issue, Walden said, with six months enough time to use it. “It doesn’t hang us with the liability of significant accumulated comp time down the road,” he told the board. “In six months, they should be able to take some time off without it being a scheduling issue for the supervisor.”
In his report, Walden said last utility bills included information about temporary changes in the billing cycle as part of the transition to the new meters. Anyone with questions should come by the utility office or call 729-4117.
He also reported on the approval late last month by the state Department of Economic Development of the joint application for CDBG block grant and Youth Opportunity Program tax credits for the construction of a building that will house the Construction Trades and Cybersecurity program at SHS. More information will be shared in the near future, Walden said.
He also reported that Salem was selected by a spring undergraduate project management class at Missouri S&T for student teams to meet with various community members to research selected community projects, possible solutions and work plans. Specific projects are still being identified.
Similar programs were conducted in 2008, 2011 and 2016 and involved students looking at the old city hall/civic theater, downtown parking, a Bonebrake Center composite bridge, a possible soccer field layout and various projects at Salem Community Center @ the Armory and in the parks system.
“For students it’s a learning exercise,” Walden said. “They get to interact with real people on a real project. From a community standpoint, it helps us guide some thoughts on projects we’re looking at,” and provides information that can be used in grant applications.
After a presentation by economic development director Sally Burbridge, the board approved drafting a resolution for the next meeting establishing a policy for setting the value of property being marketed for development at Masters Industrial Park.
Currently prices are listed as negotiable or to be determined. When the state DED sends out a request for property information, Salem has no price to report and its application is tossed aside, Burbridge said.
That’s partly because people looking for property through the state “may not be from the state and may not be from our country,” she said “So they have no idea what local land pricing is. If we don’t have an actual price, a dollar number to put on these requests, then we just don’t get considered. That puts us out of the running before we begin.”
The price being proposed—$15,000 per acre—is based on the two most recent assessments of parcels in the industrial park and a summary of other industrial parks throughout the state that are already “certified sites.” It would be used until the end of next year. Burbridge is working on gaining certified site status for the industrial park, but it’s a lengthy process.
The Certified Site Program is a process where the community does the advance work to have a site ready to use ahead of time, including surveying it, obtained archaeological clearance and getting the property cleared, ensuring a business could come in the next day and start building.
In other action the board:
• Approved a license for a trailer court at 101 Park Street, the last one to be cleared of any deficiencies by the city code inspector. The owners will be required to apply for a new permit June 30.
• Approved appointment of Wanda Henson to the Salem Housing Authority board to fill the unexpired term of Madonna Mosely, who resigned. Her four- year term began in July 2018.
• Approved appointment of Bob Jenkins and Leah Nash to fill vacancies on the Salem Parks & Recreation Board.