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Centralia aldermen meet in closed session

Posted on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 7:20 am

The more interesting parts of the Centralia Board of Aldermen’s public safety and general government committee meeting may have occurred behind closed doors.

With the approval of Mayor Tim Grenke and the city’s aldermen the group convened a previously-scheduled special meeting of the board of aldermen to discuss the following topics in closed session:

• the Narraganset Building

• the lawsuit the Prenger and Baca families have filed against the City of Centralia and LaCrosse Lumber

• power supply negotiations with Dynergy

• labor negotiations, giving pay increases for city employee certifications

• donations from the Centralia Backs the Blue organization and MOU

Grenke said no votes were taken on any of the topics.

During the regular session the aldermen discuss creating an assistant foreman position for the city electric department. Grenke said that was so multiple job sites could be supervised when department personnel were working on simultaneous projects.

Grenke said the aldermen would vote on the position creation during the next full board meeting.

They also discussed the wording for a ordinance to set in motion a bond issue for the April election.

The bond issue, Grenke said, would fund Missouri Department of Natural Resources-required upgrades to Centralia’s waste water facility as well age-related repairs to the water plant.

The also addressed another potential ballot issue.

“We are also going to go to the legislature to get permission for a public safety tax,” Grenke said.

He said the tax, if they receive legislative go-ahead, could go before the voters as early as August.

It would likely be a half-cent sales tax, Grenke said, “but that is  not set in stone and won’t be decided until after we get legislative permission.”

Proceeds from the tax  he said, would be earmarked for public safety purposes such as law enforcement equipment and training as well fire department equipment and training, “and maybe another police officer.”

When Chief of Police Larry Dudgeon was asked about the possible tax he said: “This discussion was just the first step. I am going to ask folks not to draw any conclusions or make any judgments just yet about this being “just another tax. I will speak to anyone who will listen about the need, and it is there. In 2017 we had a 17.7 percent increase in total calls for service over 2016. Also in that same time span the number of cases the police department worked increased by  13.8 percent. The need is there.”

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