MARYVILLE, Mo. — Nodaway County Sheriff Randy Strong spoke Thursday night at the Skidmore Board of Aldermen meeting about the difference between civil and criminal law and how that aligns with what his office can do within city limits.
Board members requested he come to the meeting to discuss ongoing issues within the city limits including nuisance properties.
Strong said that Skidmore has city ordinances that are very comparable to other small towns throughout the county and area. Those give the mayor and aldermen the power to issue summonses, which is the way to handle civil issues.
“It looks to me like you have things in place to enforce a lot of the issues that you're having,” Strong said. “... It's all in place.”
Saying he is not a lawyer, Strong suggested the board become less afraid of being sued and issue more summonses.
“If I was worried solely about getting sued, we would not be doing anything,” Strong said. “... If we're all just worried about being sued we're never going to get anything accomplished. Sometimes you have to take those kinds of risk. But get your legal advice on that and see where you're at.”
Because the city doesn't have a municipal court, all civil issues are to be heard by Circuit Court Judge Roger Prokes, he explained.
Strong said he spoke to city leaders in Burlington Junction and the process for derelict or unlicensed vehicles is similar. The city sends letters to put the owners on notice, then issues a summons and takes them to court.
“You have the ability to start that process,” he said. “You can designate somebody to be a code enforcement officer at the discretion of the mayor and go around and kind of monitor these things. Left unchecked, in my opinion … this is going to continue and kind of spin out of control.”
The board thanked the sheriff for his advice.
“As far as figuring out nuisances, I guess it really comes down to not being worried about being sued,” said Mayor Tracy Shewey.
She said in her previous duty as city clerk the board had a policy to decide on nuisances as a whole so as not to be seen as discriminatory.
“Once you start this process, if you choose to go there, you need to be firm, fair and consistent,” Strong said. “... If you don't take action you become ineffective. You can see that (in how) we're aggressively pursuing drug dealers in our community and aggressively going after child molesters.”
Captain Scott Wedlock with the sheriff's office discussed alleys and how it might behoove the board to contact Nodaway County Assessor Rex Wallace to define which alleys are legal city alleys and those that are privately owned.
“You've got to have your mapping in order before you go off on the alley issue or the distance from the streets part of it,” he said.
The board expressed an interest in contacting Wallace for a more defined map of the town.
“You have to document it too, don't go by memory,” Strong said. “If you didn't write it down, it didn't happen in a court of law.”
Strong also asked the board why it instituted an ordinance that allowed junkyards within residential areas of city limits. Shewey said it was based on a previous attorney's advice.
“In my opinion, I'd stop it,” he said. “It's going to be hard to enforce. It's going to cause a problem. ... Ask your attorney how to deal with that because it may not fit the grandfather clause.
“If I was a property owner around that, I'd be having a fit because I would think it would devalue the property. … You guys have got a tough job ahead of you.”
City Clerk Laura Stark has been approved to check for other surveying bids for property owned by the city and schedule with the lowest price.
The old ballfield lights will be put out for sealed bids.
Newton Hall ceiling bids were tabled until the city hears about filed grant applications.
The city brush pile will stay in its current location. Land owners surrounding the pit may put up fencing. The city may look into signage designating it as a no turnaround location.
The board set the city budget and tax levy hearing for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 15 at City Hall.
A one-time water and sewer credit was given to Roger McAfee after he experienced at 22,000 gallon water leak. The credit totaled roughly $90.
The city was contacted about a memorial for Branson Perry at Memorial Park. The board agreed more information is needed about the location.
Aldermen approved a memorial celebration and tree planting at Skidmore Wildcat Park for Britt Small with the caveat that location be discussed with the city.
The board approved the building of a new shelter house near the baseball park, though a location needs to be settled on.
Though the item was not on the agenda and an old ordinance was not repealed and replaced with new verbiage, the Board of Aldermen approved a motion to change the city ordinance regarding city dog registration costs. The previous ordinance stated the cost to register an unaltered female was $25, while the cost to register an unaltered male was $5. The new cost is $10 across the board for any animal registered with the city.