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City Council Holds Tuesday Meeting

By Sue Curry Jones

The Ava Board of Aldermen and city officials convened this week on Tuesday, Feb. 23, for a business meeting.  Councilmen present were Stan Lovan, Leon Harris, Burrely Loftin and Keith Jones.

In closed session, the board voted to hire Brad Evans to oversee the summer baseball league at the City Park.  Evans is replacing James Hathcock, who has chosen to step down from program responsibilities.

Administrative Director Peggy Porter provided an update on the city’s retirement fund LAGERS, as previous questions focusing on the stability of the system were posed in a prior audit report.

Reporting from an independent audit report received from Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System (LAGERS), Porter cited the entity is stable and the program was 94% funded in 2015.  She also noted the agency uses a 7.25% rate of return.  Porter explained the city’s pension fund reflects negatively in the audit because the City has only participated for a few years and their three years of contributions are applied to a 20-year plan.  Porter used the analogy “it is similar to a loan.”

Council members were provided a copy of the report.

Porter also gave council current figures for establishing a payroll reserve fund as advocated in a prior audit report. In the review, auditors had noted the City should work toward establishing a three-month cushion for payroll needs, and in the prior meeting, Councilmen Keith Jones had asked for updated figures to review the option.   Porter said establishment of the account is at the discretion of council’s vote, and the board has power to control the fund by vote, with their vote dictating to move funds in or out as needed.

In response, several financial questions were posed.

Mayor David Norman commented the City of Ava is not meeting bond covenants, and that failure may have an impact on future funding opportunities.  He stated he would rather focus on the covenant criteria.

Councilman Burrely Loftin asked about the $1.5 million set aside for electrical fund improvements, and the status of funding phase I, II and III of the plan.  Porter said the electric fund contains approximately $500,000-plus, and the City is in the throes of phase III.

Jones noted he would like to build the payroll reserves, and maybe the City could make the commitment to accomplish the task incrementally.

Mayor Norman reported the City recently paid the University of Missouri Extension Office $10,000, in financial support of the agency. The annual stipend had already been approved for payment as a line item in the budget.

Norman said the vacated utility office building is being appraised, and the final report is expected this week. He noted other city buildings would also require an appraisal prior to auctioning or selling through the bid process.

Norman reported several changes are in the works in city personnel:

Kevin Richards is being removed from the on-call rotation list in the electrical department, with plans for him to spend more time working with the brush crew. Joe Johnson will take Richards place on the rotation list.

Johnson, who serves the city as a meter reader, also has 2-3 water certifications and will have lineman certification in December.

City employee Rick Graham will continue to oversee and handle stray animals and dogs for the City, and Joe will assist.

Norman reported the City has been contacted several times by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), wherein the agency has expressed concern about the number of tires remaining at the property site previously occupied by Country Boy Tire, on North Jefferson Street across from the high school.  Norman advised DNR the City of Ava could not assume responsibility for disposing of the tires, as it is a business issue.   He also said a Kansas company is the only nearby firm that picks up and disposes of tires, and the cost is $2,500.  He noted the realtor who has the listing on the property has been notified accordingly.

Council reconvenes March 8, at 5:00 p.m. at City Hall.  The new City Hall location is 404 South Jefferson Street, Ava, Mo.  Meetings are open to the public.

Video of the meeting may be viewed at:  http://bit.ly/avacc022016