MINER - Money matters dominated much of the Board of Aldermen's time Tuesday night.
The board was concluding its business when someone in the audience asked about the vacancy left by the death of alderman Harry Barnes.
"Well, at this time we don't really have one," said Mayor Frank Tatum, who said an appointment would likely be made at next month's meeting. "That will give us some more time."
Barnes, 67, died Dec. 2 at Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston.
Raising concerns about spending, the board voted to send one firefighter to a training seminar instead of the four persons usually sent.
Fire Chief Randy Baker had sought permission to send himself and three other firefighters to training school where they would attend three courses each. Upon their return, the firefighters would take turns giving instruction to the department on what they had learned.
The cost to attend the training is $90 per person.
But the city officials questioned whether it was necessary to send four to the training.
"I think two is sufficient to go under the circumstances," Tatum said.
Mentioning the "crying about running short on money," Alderman Tom Brock wondered if some training could be taken from the Sikeston Department of Public Safety to limit costs. Baker said some but not all of the training could be received through Sikeston DPS.
Ultimately, the board voted to send one person, Baker, to the training seminar.
Completing the agenda, the board opened up discussion to those in the audience and taking advantage of the offer was Elizabeth Moore, who spoke about police staffing levels.
Citing a particular instance when two 911 calls resulted in her police officer husband, Roger, being called in, she stated the city is routinely covered by only a single officer.
Moore related that she met with city and police officials last week to discuss the matter. There was an understanding about financial concerns, Moore admitted, but she added: "That doesn't put my mind at ease that the city is as safe as it needs to be."
Seeking a solution, Moore suggested a reserve officer program be researched by city officials.
Brock rebutted noting instances where Highway Patrol troopers and sheriff's deputies respond without backup to crime calls.
"We're doing the best with the money we got," he said.
Peggy Holman also complained that when she called 911 the call was transferred to Sikeston. She further claimed that when the call was relayed to Miner that no one answered the phone.
Holman further criticized the November special election on whether to make the position of police chief an appointed, rather than elected position.
She said if money was an issue then why was money (some $500) spent "foolishly" on that election.
Additionally, Holman questioned the passage of an ordinance establishing a salary for the mayor to the tune of $450 per month, effective next year's election.
Tatum responded saying the limited police staff is nothing new. He criticized "past administrations" and former police chief Tom Mitchell saying that he would see officers on duty "playing on the Internet." Tatum also claimed that multiple officers would be called out for minor incidents.
"This police department in the last six months is the best around here," he said. "We're not having any problems at all."
Tatum and Brock cited expense concerns as the reason for limiting the number of officers on duty.
"We're cutting (back) before we get into trouble," Tatum said, "I appreciate your concern and you have a legitimate complaint."
The mayor pointed out the dispatcher, after calling Officer Moore in to work, contacted him a short time later to say he was not needed. Tatum also said that Officer Moore had not complained about the incident himself.
His wife said she wanted to make the public aware of the staffing situation. "I'm concerned for the safety of my family...," she said.
When she asked whether the issue was going to be addressed in time for the next meeting, Tatum stated that it would.
"Elizabeth, your concern is taken under advisement."
Discussion turned to whether or not additional officers are needed, except in rare circumstances.
"You can't babysit every citizen," Brock said.
Tatum stated: "You can't keep another man on the shift for rare instances."
Including the police chief, the department currently totals seven; plans are under way for an eighth officer.
In other business:
* Anthony Moody was promoted to captain and made assistant police chief. As the police chief's job will remain vacant until next year's election, Moody was serve in that capacity until then.
* The board rejected a request for a liquor license from the operators of a local pool room, Bankshot Billiards, citing concerns that the location is a teen hang-out.
"It's my opinion, not that I'm against drinking, but I don't think they need a liquor license," said Brock, who agreed to research the issue.
* Aldermen approved an ordinance requiring curb and guttering for new subdivisions. It also required hook-up to the city's storm sewer drainage system.
* A bid of $33,000 was rejected for a generator for the water treatment plant; bids were accepted for trash pickup and property insurance renewal.
* The next meeting will take place on Jan. 3.
* The board delayed action on the appointment of a new court clerk.
Following the regular agenda items, the board adjourned into executive session to discuss personnel and finances.