Dearborn’s newly appointed mayor, Josh Linville, joked before Monday night’s board of aldermen meeting that all he had to do to start the fireworks was say “I call this meeting to order.”
Those who have followed the saga in the northern Platte County burg of Dearborn have witnessed a string of tumultuous board meetings in recent months, which included the resignation of the city’s mayor and an alderman. Continued dissent and the conspicuous tension that lingered in the air showed that this embattled board was not quite ready to hold hands and sing Kumbayah just yet.
Tempers, however, were more subdued in the latest installment of Monday Night Dearborn. No verbal assaults, four letter words, or allegations of death threats filled the air at Monday’s regular monthly meeting.
Mayor Linville, who was appointed in August, frequently sought advice on procedural matters but was not shy from exerting his new authority to ensure order.
The evening’s most heated moment actually belonged to the mayor when officials once again debated the city’s response to dilapidated properties that violate city ordinances. Alderman Bill Edwards and citizens expressed frustration over what they viewed as the city’s lackadaisical response to the longtime complaints. Alderman Brian Justus seemed to share their concerns of extending more time to noncompliant property owners.
When citizens and board members began to talk over one another, Linville pounded his gavel and insisted that everyone “[l]et me speak.” He added that “I have personally seen to it that every complaint that comes into this city is taken care of.”
Prior to the meeting, the city had reached agreements with various property owners to bring their properties into compliance with city ordinances according to a set timetable. It was announced that property owners who failed to respond to the city’s demands would be issued a summons.
The council awarded a contract to Clyde Hill for $8,790 to install a drainage system at Dearborn’s new baseball diamond over the objections of Edwards.
Edwards questioned the efficacy of approving this foundational component of a $400,000 project without relying on an engineering report or blueprint. While the field’s construction is being financed through a county grant, he cautioned that the city will be responsible for the property’s maintenance. He argued that if the project was not completed properly it could result in unforeseen costs to the city. Justus also questioned the feasibility of the project without the benefit of an engineering report.
The board approved the measure at Linville’s insistence that the project was being completed by professionals who routinely perform the work in the daily course of their regular business. He noted that Platte County was actively engaged in the project and had monitored the city’s progress. He asserted that the county government would have notified the city if its procedures failed to comply with the county’s grant requirements.
Others suggested that the reports were not necessary and would only add undue costs to the project. If the board had not acted before Sept. 15, the price for materials would have increased according to the bid proposal.
After reviewing bids from various area realtors, the board unanimously selected Your Home Realty as the listing company to sell two adjacent parcels of park land that are owned by the city.
Five area real estate companies responded to the bid request. Your Home’s two percent total commission was considerably cheaper than all of the other proposals. Upon the sale of the property, one percent of the total selling price would go to the listing agent with the other 1 percent going to the selling agent.
Justus, who is also a realtor, expressed reservations regarding how aggressively the company would market the properties or if other area agents would be willing to show them with such a low commission structure.
Donn Swaggerty, representing Your Home Realty, quelled concerns by stating that the property would be listed in the Multiple Listing Service and would be marketed to developers and placed on the developer’s network. He asserted that his company has vast marketing capabilities, having sold three Platte County properties to California buyers and another to a Las Vegas developer in the past year alone. The board’s approval of the bid was contingent upon the agreement that the initial listing contract was only for 90 days.
When the board reached new business, Edwards inquired about the board’s approval of mileage reimbursements to a city employee at last month’s meeting. He had opposed the expenditure. The city’s reimbursement rate was previously set at 40¢ per mile, which exceeds the federal rate of 36¢ per mile. The Missouri Municipal League suggests city governments use the federal reimbursement rate.
Linville interjected that there is nothing that the city can do about it at this time as the expenditure was already approved and the rate was previously voted on by the board. He stated that the board could revisit the issue and change the rate at the next meeting.
Alderman Bryan Justus was appointed last month to fill the Ward 1 seat that was vacated after the resignation of Lila Scrivener but could not be reached for comment following the board’s August meeting. Justus is a 32-year-old steel worker and realtor who has resided in Dearborn since July 2003.
Justus said that he agreed to accept the appointment after attending several meetings earlier this year. He wanted to help end the strife that had divided the council and many of Dearborn’s citizens in recent months. He added that “[t]hings can only get better from here.”
The former mayor and alderman resigned in the wake of a petition drive initiated by Edwards to force a state audit of the city’s finances. Last month, Edwards said that he has no preconceived notions of the new appointees and would do his best to work with them. He indicated that he was still reserving judgment on Linville and Justus and hopes that they can work together for the betterment of the city.
In other city business, Verizon was seeking a contract extension with the city for its cellular tower. The city earns $150 a month for the rental, based on a contract that was signed nearly 10 years ago. Several people in attendance believed that the amount was far below the average that other cities receive, indicating that similarly situated cities receive up to 10 times this amount. The city agreed to research the matter further by contacting nearby cities.
The council also unanimously approved the city’s amended budget for the current fiscal year.
The next episode of the City of Dearborn is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 11. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. The potential for a fireworks show always exists.