VIENNA — The Vienna City Council once again had discussion about giving money to the Vienna Volunteer Fire Protection District to help the fire department pay for the expensive repairs to the …
VIENNA — The Vienna City Council once again had discussion about giving money to the Vienna Volunteer Fire Protection District to help the fire department pay for the expensive repairs to the department’s ladder truck.
Mayor Tyler “TC” James reported he went with some of the volunteer firemen to the Maries R-1 School Board meeting. They asked the school board to consider making a donation to help pay for the ladder truck’s repairs. The school is one of the large, two-story buildings in Vienna the ladder truck protects, but the school district does not pay taxes, thus it pays nothing for fire protection. It is the same with the county courthouse and large churches in Vienna. The firemen are concerned the small fire department won’t be able to continue to keep the 35-year-old ladder truck and the department can’t afford a new one at over $1 million.
At the school board meeting R-1 Superintendent Teresa Messersmith said the school probably can’t legally give the fire department money. Board President Vicki Bade said they maybe can do a fundraiser.
South Ward Alderwoman Brenda Davis said every single person in Vienna is paying taxes to the fire department and they don’t want to be double-taxed. She’s not sure if the city legally can give the fire department money either. They need to check with the city attorney.
James said look at what the city pays for the police department compared to the fire department. They used to give the fire department $15,000 annually, but now it is a tax supported fire department.
Police Chief Shannon Thompson said Vienna residents pay taxes to Maries County and the City of Vienna pays the county for dispatching.
Davis said she is not anti-fire department. “But, I am pro-Vienna taxpayers.”
North Ward Alderwoman Rita Juergens asked if the fire department can turn in claims when they work vehicle accidents. Chief Thompson said they can but he’s not sure what they receive, but he does know the firemen get insurance information at the accident scene. He commented Vienna Fire used to be member supported by annual dues but not all of the members paid their dues. With the tax supported fire district they can count on the about $88,000 they get annually in tax money.
It was noted additional fundraising may be needed. Vichy Fire does a lot of fundraising.
Mayor James said the firemen “Don’t want to have a BBQ every weekend. I would like to help out, just not sure how much.” He asked the council members to think about it and what amount the city can do to help. “They’re looking at a thirty thousand dollar bill” to repair the ladder truck.
In other business at the January Vienna City Council meeting:
—The council members looked over an incident report from Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging (CMAAA) about an injury sustained in the parking lot at the Vienna Senior Center on Dec. 14, 2021. Chief Thompson said the agency requires the report. It was an accident “and nobody has said a mean word about it.”
—Vienna can participate in the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) administered by the Department of Social Services (DSS). The program will provide up to $750 for water and wastewater disconnection fees, customers who are in threat of disconnection, past due bills and reconnection fees. Persons need to meet income guidelines to qualify. DSS will notify potentially eligible clients about the program and the clients will apply for benefits through DSS. If the client is eligible, DSS will let the city know and will send payment to the city for the water and sewer bills of those participating in the program. The program continues until the funding by the Administration of Children and Families is spent, or through Sept. 30, 2023.
Mayor James said he doesn’t see any reason to not do it. Attorney Ross Bush told him to go for it.
Davis said the council has no reason to deny this for the city’s people. The money owed in water bills comes directly to the city as its the water and sewer service provider. The council approved a motion to be part of the program.
—The council briefly discussed water deposit refunds. Clerk Karen Dudenhoeffer said an individual called asking for the refund as they had met the two-year time frame for when they became a city water customer. The water deposit is $150.
Mayor James said he thinks they city should keep the deposit until the water customer moves. Davis said she thinks it’s in the ordinance that Vienna will refund the deposit after two years. The deposit is credited to their water account. Chief Thompson said he remembers when they began to refund them because the water customers paid their bills. The mayor said his concern is people move and they don’t pay the last two months of water bills, then the city is stuck with it.
Clerk Dudenhoeffer said there are a lot of outstanding water and sewer bills. After a period of time the deposit could be applied to the bill. Some people make partial payments on their water bills, such as $60 on an outstanding $250 water bill.
James said it will take more looking into and wants to know what the ordinance says. He said it’s a lot of keep track of and the city is taking a chance with getting stuck with unpaid water bills when someone moves.
—The city’s property, vehicle and liability insurance policy with Naught-Naught increased in 2022 by $2,409 for a total of $32,532 annual premium. They were told the law enforcement liability would have tripled if the city had had a claim. The 2022 total for law enforcement liability is $3,959, an increase of $914.
Chief Thompson said maybe they can look for a different company, but sometimes a new company will give a better rate to lure business in, and then increase the price after that. Also, it’s a lot of work to put together all of the information a new company wants in order to bid. Dudenhoeffer said she will check with other cities about what they pay for this insurance.
—Dudenhoeffer reported Wave Internet Technology is coming to put WiFi in the city shop and to give city hall better internet speed. The city has been asking for this for quite some time. Chief Thompson said the internet is so bad they can’t watch a training video. The mayor asked them to keep the council members posted about this. Wave uses the city’s water tower for equipment and the city gets internet at no cost because of it.
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