Palmyra City Council members approved an ordinance for a slightly lower property tax rate for 2017, along with listening to bills regarding regulations for utility vehicles driven with the city and ground-level apartments in commercially zoned areas.

Palmyra City Council members approved an ordinance for a slightly lower property tax rate for 2017, along with listening to bills regarding regulations for utility vehicles driven with the city and ground-level apartments in commercially zoned areas.

Mayor Loren Graham announced the opening of a public hearing regarding the property tax valuation. City Attorney Chase Hickman delivered the emergency ordinance reading, which specified a $.6339 for each $100 valuation — slightly lower than the 2016 rate of $.6489. The ordinance passed following a vote by the council members, and they also heard the first reading of bills that defined regulations for ground-level apartments in the C-1 Commercial District and operating utility vehicles within city limits.

Hickman went through the regulations for utility vehicles the bill listed, including an age requirement of 18 or above, having liability insurance on the vehicle, possessing a valid driver's license, wearing a seat belt and setting up a day-glow colored safety flag. A penalty for breaking one of the regulations would result in a fine of up to $225, including court costs.

The second bill dealt with ground-floor apartments in the C-1 Commercial District. The regulations included placing the apartment away from the store front, permitting an apartment entrance on Main Street or a side street and allocating at least 500 square feet of floor space for commercial use when an apartment is present.

In other business:

Council member Jeff Merkel reported that the Police Committee met, opting to temporarily suspend the School Resource Officer program.

Council member Ken Sheputis received a report of a stormwater issue from a citizen, and he said he and Merkel would talk with the adjoining landowner to try to come up with a solution. Merkel said Raj Kshirsagar, owner of Budget Inn, requested a road near the hotel. Graham said he would schedule a Street and Alley Committee meeting to review options for a potential project.

Council member Josh Smith said parents in his neighborhood spoke with him about motorists speeding near the Pixie Field, and council members discussed potentially adding a speed limit sign nearby. Police Chief Eddie Bogue said it was important for people to contact the police department if they see speeding going on officers could respond more quickly.

Council member Pam Behring worked with Bogue to discuss potentially shrinking parking spots to increase visibility at intersections along Main St. Regulations require parking spots to be seven feet wide by 22 to 26 feet in length. The current spots are much wider but a bit shorter, at 11 1/2 feet wide by 21 feet in length. If the parking lots were narrowed and lengthened, visibility would be increased, but 12 parking spots on Main St. would be eliminated by the change, Bogue said.

Street Commissioner Lynn Smith said citizens asked him for a yellow stripe to mark the top step on higher curbs for safety, and council members agreed it would be a good precaution. Smith also requested $62,110 in funding for a resurfacing project that would include the municipal parking lot, Gene Avenue and Allen Avenue, along with storm water work with a new box inlet and pipe.

Bogue shared survey results prepared over the past year by Truman State University students regarding the public's perceptions and interactions with members of the police department, reporting positive outcomes. “I think it's a pretty good little outline of our town,” he said.

Board of Public Works Superintendent Brent Abell reported that he received a grant for the city's water pretreatment program. He said engineering would commence for the third and final circuit of electrical improvements, totaling $66,600 and coming from the department's existing $3 million line of credit.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com