Council to decide on sewer repair policy

May 14, 2012

Sewers, street repair and grass clippings were on the agenda during the Sedalia City Council work session on Monday.

Sewers were the main topic during the meeting, in light of the city’s Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ order to the city to make $30 million worth of sewer repairs during the next three years.

“What we’re looking at is adopting a new policy when it comes to repairing sewers that are near property lines,” Public Works Director Bill Beck said. “When the DNR policies start, we’ll be repairing or replacing sewer lines all over the city. What we’d like to do is replace the line right up to the property owner’s edge.”

Ward 4 Council member Ken Norton agreed with Beck, saying it made sense to repair the pipes up to the property line.

“It’s more cost effective for us in the long run,” he said.

Council decided to vote on a resolution specifically dealing with sewer repair at a future regular meeting.

Cost also was a major concern during Beck’s presentation and update on street repair.

“We have a lot of streets in town that need repairs. Some of them are failed streets, meaning they need a complete overhaul,” he said.

The cost to repair a city block depends on materials used, Beck told the council. Beck said that chip and seal — which uses oil and rock — is the most cost effective at about $1,000 per block and adds about five years to a street’s life. On the other end of the spectrum, Beck said that concrete costs about $100,000 a block and lasts about 40 years.

“Chip and seal can’t make our streets new, but they can protect them for the next few years,” Beck said. “I like to compare it to changing the oil in your car. Changing the oil may seem like a good chunk of money, but it’s a lot cheaper than buying a new motor, which is what happens when you never change the oil. It’s about maintenance and upkeep.”

Grass clippings were another hot topic for the council. There is a city ordinance preventing property owners from blowing clippings into the street or into city waterways, punishable by a fine of as much as $500 and up to three months in jail. Unfortunately, Beck said, many don’t abide by the ordinance.

“On a first offense the property owner receives a door hanger with the ordinance clearly printed on it and there’s a note made of the property,” he said. “The second offense has a city official coming out to speak with the owner, and the third offense is reported to the police department.”

Norton said that all city officials and workers should have door hangers in city vehicles.

“If we’ve got all these people watching for those who are breaking the law, we can go through this faster,” he said. “If it’s the third offense, I say put them in jail. It’s the property owner’s responsibility to take care of his yard.”

Norton said that citizens need a reminder of the ordinance and suggested it be included in water bills.

“People should know it’s against our city laws to blow grass into the street for someone else to deal with,” he said.

Council did not take action on whether to include a copy of the ordinance in water bills but may discuss it at a future meeting.