SIKESTON - Court costs in Sikeston will be a couple of bucks steeper from now on.
City council members approved a bill Monday during the regular Sikeston City Council meeting which adds a $2 surcharge to city court costs to fund domestic violence shelters in Sikeston. The new ordinance also establishes guidelines for the application and award of the collected monies to local shelters.
The new surcharge was added by a request from the House of Refuge, according to Linda Lowes, director of governmental services. She explained the Revised Missouri Statutes allow communities with domestic violence shelters to order a $2 surcharge on municipal ordinance violation cases except if the charges are dismissed or the city is required to pay court costs.
Lowes said Sikeston handles about 13,000 cases each year of which defendants in about 1,250 cases are found not guilty or the charges against them are dismissed. Based on these figures, about $23,300 should be available to Sikeston shelters each year after 5 percent of the proceeds are retained by the city for administrative costs. "Not everybody pays their fines on time," Lowes said.
In other Sikeston City Council business:
* Action to begin terminating the redevelopment agreement with Novus Development Company was postponed as Charles Leible, city counselor, advised no communications have been received from the company.
The city entered a redevelopment agreement with Novus for the old Missouri Department of Transportation building site at Main and Malone on April 5, 1999.
Sikeston resident Chuck Grant asked the council about Novus' obligation to maintain the site. "I think they need to mow it," Grant said, "and take care of the property."
"If it was mine, you'd be after me," he added.
City officials said it was their understanding that Bizzell's Lawn Care was contracted to maintain the property. "You're right - it should be maintained to standard," agreed Doug Friend, city manager.
City officials promised to look into the matter, but Friend noted that grass can get pretty high before it is actually out of compliance with city codes.
* Council members accepted a bid of $19,038 to provide the city with network security software from the sole bidder, Automation Services of Cape Girardeau.
Lowes said with the city's increased presence on and usage of the Internet, the city's internal network security "has been the number one concern for the city of Sikeston."
The city's network contains databases used by the Department of Public Safety, collector's division, and code enforcement that are vital to municipal operations, she explained.
* The Sikeston City Council repealed a rezoning ordinance for South Grove Estates returning the land to its former unzoned classification.
"It did not go through the proper zoning process," said Tom Bridger, public works director.
The property, located along the west side of Highway 61 North immediately north and south of the First Church of the Nazarene, was returned to its original status at the request of its developer, Josh Bill of Sikeston, Bridger said.
Part of the property there has been purchased by the Scott County Health Department for the construction of a new facility.
* Carroll Couch, city clerk, said the preliminary results of the property tax analysis indicate tax rates will remain the same as they have for the last two years.
The 2002 municipal tax rates must be approved prior to Sept. 1, Couch said.
* Sikeston resident Harry Sharp asked about the city's mosquito spraying schedule citing concerns over the spread of the West Nile Virus and the high number of mosquitoes in the area.
Bridger said city crews are spraying six nights per week and should be in Sharp's neighborhood twice each week.
* Robert Tyler of Scott City advised council members he owns property in Sikeston that has been vacant since March and asked the council to remove trash collection charges from his utilities bill. He also asked them to compensate his trip to appear before the council by returning sewer charges "since there is no water going into the sewer."
Sue Rogers, council member, said while managing and owning rental properties she has learned that as long as water service is active in Sikeston, trash and sewer charges are incurred. She advised she now has the water turned off for her vacant buildings.
Friend said the charges are a result of the way the solid waste collection contract is awarded to bidders. "We don't have a pay-as-you-go method," he said. Friend said he will discuss the matter with the Board of Municipalities during their meeting today.
Tyler said other towns don't charge for services not being used. "I don't mind paying for what I use," he said.
* Council approved a resubdivision request from David and Nanette Morris for property located adjacent to Brunt Boulevard.
The request received a favorable recommendation from planning and zoning during their July 16 meeting, according to Bridger.