MONROE CITY, Mo | Electric service for Arcadia Metalcraft was restored – at least temporarily – by the Monroe Electric Department early Tuesday morning.
At 7:30 a.m., city electric employee Chris Wheelan rose in a cherry picker to turn on the power to the first of three buildings. Electric service to the troubled manufacturer of component parts for the automotive industry was disconnected early Thursday morning (Dec. 12) after the Monroe City Board of Aldermen had rejected a plan offered by the company to repay its $266,000 utility bill.
Monroe City's municipal utility provides electric, natural gas, water and sewer services to residential, commercial and industrial customers in the city. Arcadia had a disconnection notice dated Dec. 2, but avoided shutoff at that time because Monroe City voluntarily follows the Missouri Cold Weather Rule, which prevents disruption of utilities between Nov. 1 and March 31 when temperatures are forecast to be below 32 degrees on any 24-hour period. Although the state Cold Weather Rule is aimed at residential customers, Monroe City does not differentiate among residential, industrial and commercial customers.
Arcadia had a disconnection notice dated Dec. 2, but avoided shutoff at that time because Monroe City voluntarily follows the Missouri Cold Weather Rule, which prevents disruption of utilities between Nov. 1 and March 31 when temperatures are forecast to be below 32 degrees on any 24-hour period. However, on Thursday, temperatures were forecast to be above 32 degrees.
City Administrator Jackie Pangborn sent a demand letter on Dec. 11 for immediate payment of $201,120.85 for the company's back utility bill before 9 a.m. on Dec. 12.
Late last week, Mayor John Long called for a special meeting of the Monroe City Board of Aldermen to with a single agenda item – the status of Arcadia Metalcraft's utility bill with the city. However, the city could not muster quorum as three aldermen were missing – Connie Painter, Melissa Hays and Jason Osbourne. Only Aldermen Jeremy Moss and Marvin Viloria attended. There is one vacancy on the board.
After announcing that the board would not have as special meeting, Long said he had wanted to issue an executive order to restore power while a payment plan was negotiated.
“The city attorney tells me I do not have the authority to issue an executive order,” Long said.
Arcadia owners Graham Furse and Mick Carr attended the meeting. They had offered the city $20,000 a week to repay back utility service, while promising to pay current utility bills on time. However, the board rejected that plan, saying it did not meet city policy.
During intense questioning from Moss about the company's proposed plan, its utility usage, Graham said that with a $20,000 payment this week, Arcadia will have paid $100,000 on its bill.
Then, the meeting changed course when Jeff Kendrick, an employee of Arcadia, spoke up from the audience.
“You have a policy that you are not following … it is on your web site,” he said.
That prompted aldermen and several others in the room to begin looking up the policy on their smartphones, while City Attorney Michael Williams grabbed a loose-leaf city code book from a bookcase located behind the dais and began slipping through the pages.
The policy, in part, reads: “The Director of Administration is authorized to deviate from this policy if the circumstances of a particular situation warrant it, for a period of not more than seven days. During this time, the Director of Administration can have utility service reinstated and offer additional payment arrangement.”
The meeting ended about 30 minutes later. Pangborn was contacted by the mayor, and she ordered the electric service to be reconnected Tuesday morning.
“I am happy Arcadia has utility service and I look forward to discussing the future,” Long said
She said that written policy sited by Kendrick was developed when the city clerk was in charge of utilities and that not accepting long-term payment arrangements for utility service was common practice, though not a written policy.
As he was leaving the meeting, Kendrick said he was disappointed that city official seemed unaware of the policy that was on the Monroe City website.
“It seems the city should go over its own policy,” Kendrick said. “If we are going to follow policy, then follow policy.”