Kaplan Announces Newsletter At City Council Meeting (11/3/2014)
POPLAR BLUFF – Monday night’s meeting of the Poplar Bluff City Council was largely a house-keeping session, other than an announcement at the end of the meeting by City Manager Heath Kaplan that he intends to begin publication of a newsletter from his office in order to get accurate information to the people of Poplar Bluff.
He said the purpose of the newsletter will be to “line out all the information regarding financial decisions” he has made, addressing each of the issues raised in a recent editorial published by the Daily American Republic.
“There are 11 items that I will address that were concerns of the DAR. I hope they will also publish this information,” said Kaplan. If not, he said he would seek other ways to get his message to the public.
“There was a lot of misleading information published by the DAR,” said Kaplan. “I just want to address concerns and clarify the information.”
In reference to concerns voiced by the DAR about the city’s reserve monies, Kaplan commented, “I haven’t touched one cent of the city’s reserves.”
He did say the DAR coverage has “motivated me to be a better city manager and to do a better job of informing the public. I think this (the addition of the newsletter) will cut down on misinformation.”
In reference to his concerns about the Black River Coliseum and the debt accrued by the city because of it, Kaplan noted that all of that debt occurred during the previous administration of Doug Bagby and the City Council of that time.
“The Black River Coliseum is a great facility, but there were problems of debt created because of it. Yet the DAR isn’t raking the old administration over the coals because of it,” said Kaplan.
Kaplan said he is hoping to have his first newsletter released this week.
Mayor Pro Tem Jack Rushin agreed the newsletter should help fill an information gap and that “people should feel free to come to you or to us as council members with their concerns.”
The majority of the open council session was spent on matters the council had previously addressed. No one came forward during the citizens’ input section of the council meeting.
The workshop items included:
*The amendment of Ordinance 7540 relative to the transferring of easements from the City of Poplar Bluff to Telecommunications Management, LLC. It was noted the original ordinance was made in the name of New Wave Communications.
Last month, the council had addressed this issue by agreeing to a settlement between the City of Poplar Bluff and Rayvion LLC, also known as ZCorum. When New Wave Communications purchased the city’s cable operation, apparently this provision with Rayvion was not included. The city agreed to payment of $237,500 to close the matter out.
Kaplan had explained, “This basically was a contract that was part of the city’s cable business, but was left out of the New Wave agreement.” It was moved to the council’s voting session and was approved in a 4-3, vote. Opposing it in that session were council members Brannum, Rushin, and David Johnson
*The selection of an auditing firm for the city of Poplar Bluff for fiscal years, 2014-2017. It was noted five bids were submitted for the contract. They included a $30,000 bid by a Farmington firm, but the firm had deficiencies in their rating, and a Springfield firm bid of $40,900, but it was felt their hours were under-estimated. The Poplar Bluff firm of Kraft, Miles and Tatum was chosen with a bid of $55,000. The contract includes a 3 percent increase per year for the four year contract period.
*The review of a request from the Poplar Bluff Police Department for the purchase of body cameras, services and accessories from Taser International. It was noted the Taser International bid will include their digital system for storage of camera data, and that Taser is the only company whose system will support their cameras. It was also noted that both Columbia and Sikeston police departments use the Taser camera and data systems, and that both have reported favorable reviews of the equipment. The contract includes 100 percent replacement of any equipment that fails within 24 hours. The council agreed in light of Ferguson, body cameras are likely to become mandatory for all law enforcement agencies in the near future, and that use of the cameras should result not only in proper documentation of any involvements with the police and public, but it will also provide greater evidence in cases, and will likely lower the cost of the city’s liability insurance.
*The review of the proposed budget for the City of Poplar Bluff for Fiscal Year 2015. This matter was moved to the council’s next voting session because all bids for insurance carriers have not yet been received.
*A review of an agreement with First Southwest Company to provide financial advisory services to the city. It was noted this matter is of some time importance because interest rates on the involved debt will go up from 8 to 10 percent in January.
A member of the audience, Susan McVey, suggested to the council that the matter should be moved to its next voting session.
“Normally the council does not workshop and vote on something of this magnitude in one night,” said McVey.
Rushin reiterated there is a time component to the issue.
The council agreed to vote on the measure at the City Council Special Meeting scheduled for Nov. 10.
First Southwest Company is an investment and banking financial advisory firm that is being considered to guide the city through the process of updating the city’s structures, likely the construction of a new city hall building.
Last month the council announced plans to move the city into the modern technology era through both new physical structures, and the inclusion of improved phone and communications systems.
Kaplan noted at the time that these improvements are necessary for the city’s continued growth, and will actually save the city money in the long run, despite a price tag of probably about $5 million.
In the action required items, the City Council:
- Approved an ordinance granting an easement to Laclede Gas Company located at Hillcrest Park. The purpose of the request is to allow for the construction of a gas line across the park.
- Approved an ordinance rezoning property from M-1, light industrial, to C-2, general commercial with a conditional use permit for multiple dwellings in an existing structure at 1126 S. 11th Street. The request was made by Jonas Duckett and Duckett Construction.
- Approved an ordinance select an audit firm for the City of Poplar Bluff. Chosen was Poplar Bluff firm Kraft, Miles, and Tatum.
- Approved an ordinance authorizing the purchase of body cameras, services and accessories from Taser International for use by the Poplar Bluff Police Department.
Following the open session of the City Council, they voted to go into closed session to discuss matters exempted under Missouri’s Open Meetings Law.