Here is a brief recap of the May 23 regular meeting of the Lebanon City Council:
Council approved the second reading of Bill No. 6283 authorizing the creation of the Board of Public Works.
What does this mean for the community?
The demands and challenges of running a city and utility system continue to grow and become more diverse. As Lebanon has grown, managing utilities is becoming more complex. It is difficult for a governing body to have the time needed and to develop the technical and regulatory knowledge related to the utility industry. This new non-partisan board will consist of four members on staggered terms that will manage city utility operations. The Board of Public Works is expected to be operational in July. Community members will be able to apply for board positions and members will be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by city council.
Council approved the second and final reading of Bills 6284 and 6285 adjusting water and electric service rates.
What does this mean for the average utility customer?
The average residential customer can expect a total increase of less than $5 a month. If the average customer uses 5,000 gallons of water a month, the increase would be $1 and if the average electric customer uses 1,200 kwh of electricity each month, they can expect an increase of approximately $3.72. Even with the adjustment, the water rates will still be the second lowest in the State of Missouri for municipal utilities of similar size. The last water rate adjustment was approved in 2010 and the last electric rate adjustment was in 2018. The rate adjustment is necessary to maintain current service levels and keep up with increased costs.
Council approved Bill No. 6286 adopting the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget beginning July 1 and the Capital Improvement plan for 2024-2028.
What does this mean for the average citizen?
A budget basically is a plan for solid financial management. The top three priorities addressed in the FY23 budget are addressing traffic flow, improving code enforcement, and maintaining city streets and buildings. These three priorities are based on feedback provided by citizens through citizen surveys. The city is in solid financial shape with sales taxes revenues coming in higher than estimated over the last two years. Council budgeted conservatively this year, opting to save for future projects and to create a buffer in case the national economy faces a downturn due to inflation, energy prices, etc. This year’s improvements include numerous street overlays, stormwater improvements and subdivision infrastructure to help address the current need for affordable housing in Lebanon.
Council approved bills 6287 and 6288 approving the acceptance of a World War II M4 Sherman Combat Tank from the United States Army and approving construction of a foundation for the tank and an Apache Helicopter static display for the Lebanon Veterans Memorial Park.
More than 10 years ago the Veterans Memorial Board began the process of acquiring static military equipment to display in the Veterans Memorial Park at Cowan Civic Center. After several years, Lebanon received an Apache Helicopter last year and will soon receive a tank. These pieces of military equipment will be displayed at the park as a tribute to those who have served our nation and to those who have paid the ultimate price. The helicopter has been restored and is currently located at the Floyd W. Jones Airport until the display mount is prepared at the park. The tank should be delivered soon. The hope is for both pieces of equipment to be installed well before Memorial Day 2023.
Council approved Bill No. 6291 authorizing the Missouri Department of Transportation the use of city right-of-way for improvements at the railroad crossing on Jefferson Avenue.
In 2021, BNSF made improvements to the railroad track on Jefferson, but in the process made the traffic crossing more difficult to navigate. MoDOT is planning on making repairs at the crossing beginning in late September. MoDOT needed to receive permission from the city to make the repairs since city right-of-way will be impacted. Council approved the request from MoDOT and we are looking forward to the improvements coming at the railroad crossing.
In other news, Mayor Jared Carr also presented the Silver Leaf Award for Special Service to Street Projects Operations Manager Mike Bowling. Mike will be retiring at the end of this week after more than 40 years of service in the city street department. Mike will be missed by his City of Lebanon family.