After operating for the better part of a year with an open alderman's chair, the Verona board of aldermen is now at full strength again, with the swearing in of two newly-elected members on Monday. Having received the two highest vote totals in last week's local election, LaDonna Buzard and Sheila Massengil were sworn in as aldermen at large for a two-year term at a special meeting. In addition to being sworn in as an alderman, Buzard was selected to serve as mayor pro-tem.
In other personnel matters for the city, the board voted to keep Darlene Parrigon on as the city attorney and Laura Hazelwood as city clerk. Massengill was then nominated to serve as Verona's representative on the Southwest Missouri Solid Waste Management District board.
Before getting to new business, board members had a few disputes when it came to approving the March bills and expenses. Alderman Hutson questioned why Heck had gone ahead with purchasing radio equipment for the fire department without the board's approval, as last month's meeting was adjourned without a quorum. Heck said it was in the interest of public safety to get new equipment, which was also his argument in a similar question from Hutson regarding the filling of a pothole.
Hutson also questioned why former alderman Linda Gates had been given her check in advance of the normal pay schedule for aldermen. Heck responded that Gates had "held her ordinance book hostage," refusing to turn over the book to the city for new aldermen until being paid. The bills and expenses were eventually approved, despite Hutson's "nay" vote.
Moving on to new business, the board voted to approve the 2018-2019 budget with the stipulation that amendments would be needed. An initial budget needed to be passed in order to later amend with additional money following Tuesday's meeting with the Aurora Rural Fire Department. Board members agreed to look over the budget before the regular meeting later this month.
Aldermen then held brief discussions on whether to keep having the city attorney present at every meeting and on the possibility of bringing back a planning and zoning committee. After agreeing they felt "safer" having Parrigon present, board members voted to continue having the attorney at each meeting. On the P&Z question, there was some confusion over whether or not the previous committee members' terms were up, despite the group not meeting for multiple years. In the end, Parrigon suggested seeking resignations from all the previous members just to be certain before forming a new committee.
Board members then voted on a pair of bills regarding the city's methods of making payments. A motion passed to have two check signers for deposit accounts, ideally the mayor and mayor pro-tem. Also passing was a motion to allow the city clerk to pay monthly utilities, insurance and fuel costs as ordinary and necessary expenses, submitting a monthly account at each regular meeting, as is common practice in most local municipalities.
The board then voted to accept a bid of $1,000 for repairs to the water line at the city park from J&R All Services in Aurora. The cost will cover excavation, a new water line and repair of the faucet at the drinking fountain.
In the final item of new business passed, the board agreed to provide written consent for the local Mexican restaurant's liquor license application. The owner of Guanajuato addressed the board and the audience at the meeting, saying he was willing to work with the nearby church in order to obtain the license, which he believed would help "keep the city growing."
According to an ordinance, the restaurant would not be able to serve alcohol, being so close to the church. The owner stated he would be willing to compromise by not serving alcohol during church service hours should his exception be granted. The church's pastor spoke as well, after the board had agreed to give its consent, saying he and his church did not personally agree with the decision, but they would respect the wishes of the board and the community.
The board then voted to enter into closed session to discuss and review resumes for the new chief of police. This month's regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., April 24, at city hall.