Commissioners review water usage, sales tax figures

By Colin Willard, Staff Writer
Posted 5/24/23

VIENNA — The water and sewer bill for the courthouse issued on May 15 was $2,658.88, which was abnormally high for a bill that last month only cost the county $479.97. Presiding Commissioner …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Commissioners review water usage, sales tax figures


VIENNA — The water and sewer bill for the courthouse issued on May 15 was $2,658.88, which was abnormally high for a bill that last month only cost the county $479.97. Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said at the May 18 commission meeting that the cost was for about 10,000 gallons of water. At that rate, the courthouse would have used between 13 and 14 gallons of water per hour per day for a month.

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said he suspected the high rate of usage probably came from the jail.

“They let it run,” he said.

Stratman said one of the sheriff’s office employees had told him that the jail had been full with a population as high as 16 detainees.

Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre asked if the jail has automatic faucets and showerheads that turn off after a set amount of time.

“They ought to have automatic shut-offs,” County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said.

Stratman said he would ask Wegman Plumbing to come to check around the courthouse for leaks and ask about automatic shut-offs for the showers.

“All you can do is go around and check all these stools to make sure they’re not leaking through the back,” Drewel said. “They do occasionally. The seal gets bad and it does that. And if it isn’t one of the stools, it’s the showers down there or maybe (in the jail) upstairs. If you take just a little trickle of water going out of there…”

“But 10,000 gallons?” Stratman asked.

“It’s more than you think,” Drewel said. “They could be wrong, but I doubt if their figures are wrong.”

Later in the meeting, Stratman called Vienna Utilities Superintendent Shon Westart to ask if the meter reading was correct. The call failed before they could finish talking.

A few minutes later, Westart stopped by the courthouse and talked with Fagre, who had stepped outside to take a phone call. When Fagre returned to the meeting, he told the other commissioners that Westart had told him when he had been at the courthouse to read the meter initially, it was running despite the courthouse not yet being open.

“They could be taking showers down in the sheriff’s department,” Drewel said.

“(Westart) thinks we might want to look into putting some limiters on those showers, or some low-flow heads,” Fagre said.

“If we put a two-minute time limit on them, (the detainees) can always start them again if they’re not done taking a shower,” Stratman said.

Later in the meeting, Westart called Stratman and told him that there was no mistake when he read the meter.

Sales Tax Revenue

Treasurer Angie Stricklan shared the county’s sales tax numbers for 2023 so far. Maries County has five sales taxes. One goes to General Revenue. The county splits the second three ways between General Revenue, Citizens Safety, and the two road funds. Two-thirds of the third tax goes to Citizens Safety with the other third split between the road funds. The fourth sales tax supports law enforcement. The last sales tax comes from online purchases.

Partway through May, revenue from the tax that funds General Revenue totaled $148,122.23, which is nearly $14,000 more than last year’s total through May. The tax split between General Revenue, Citizens Safety and the road funds, and the tax split between Citizens Safety and the road funds had similar totals.

The law enforcement sales tax totaled $49,070.73 so far this year, which is nearly $5,000 more than this time last year. The use tax totaled $128,508.80 so far this year, which is more than $60,000 than it had generated this time last year. This February generated $65,242.16 in use tax revenue compared to only $19,848.29 in February of last year.

Opioid Settlement

Rodgers said $7,506.79 would be the next payment the county receives for the state settlement with opioid manufacturers. As part of a settlement between Missouri and opioid distributors McKesson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and Johnson & Johnson, Missouri counties will receive a series of payments over the next several years.

Counties have restrictions on how they may spend the money. They must use 85 percent of those payments to fund programs that educate the public or help reduce the damages of opioid abuse. Counties may spend the other 15 percent of the money as they see fit.

Stratman asked if the county had yet set up programs. Rodgers said it had not, but she took notes during a webinar she attended about the settlement payments, so she could share those notes with the commissioners to help establish the programs.

License Office

Vienna License Office Manager Jennifer Roberson came to the May 18 meeting to announce her resignation, which is effective at the beginning of June. She took a new management role with the Missouri Department of Revenue.

“I’m glad you’re getting yourself advanced and where you need to be,” Fagre said.

“Thanks for giving me the opportunity,” Roberson said.

License office employee Tiffaney Kelley accepted a promotion to become the office manager. She has worked in the office since last September.

Air Handler

Stratman said the air handler in the mechanical room of the courthouse was having problems draining, and it was causing a mess. A technician from Maciejewski Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning was at the courthouse working on another unit, so Stratman asked him to take a look at the air handler that was struggling to drain.

“It was plumbed into the drain,” Stratman said. “But that’s about the same level as the drain. When the macerator kicks on, it pumps. We think that was making it back up the drain.”

He said that Maciejewski rerouted the drain, but there was still water on the floor when he came to the courthouse for the May 18 meeting. He suspected it might take a little time to completely drain the water from the floor.

Light Bulbs

Stratman asked Rodgers if she knew anything about 2-feet long fluorescent light bulbs in the courthouse. He had found two boxes of about one dozen bulbs each that he had never noticed before in the mechanical room, and he was unsure where they came from. When he picked the boxes up, it sounded like several of the bulbs had broken.

“If we got them, we need to send them back,” he said. “They’re the newer kind, so if they haven’t been installed, they shouldn’t be bad yet.”

“That’s a lot of money,” Drewel said.

Rodgers said she did not know about the origin of the bulbs.

Drewel said he was not sure why the bulbs would be at the courthouse because most, if not all, of the lights there are longer than 2 feet.

“We’ll have to watch the bills here before too long,” he said. “See who’s trying to bill for them.”

After the meeting, Stratman opened one of the boxes and found that not all the bulbs had broken.