Dearborn officials rankled by delay in delivery of utility bills through the mail

DEARBORN, Mo. — City officials want answers on why utility bills mailed to citizens have started taking nearly three weeks to arrive across town. During the Dearborn Board of Alderman’s regular meeting Monday, Oct. 12, concerns were again raised on issues at the local U.S. Post Office. Delivery time of up to 17 days have been encountered, leading large amounts of bills to be past due when received. The board said it can’t accurately collect late fees, but more importantly, wants to improve service.

Initial inquires have revealed that the first-class mail containing water and wastewater — and soon trash service — charges go to Kansas City before coming back. Why that process takes more than two weeks has not been such a simple question to answer.

Dearborn has filed a complaint in the matter, and an official with the postal service said it plans to follow the bills throughout the process for the next mailing. Mail sent to Kansas City allows for mass automated sorting for most of the region, which cuts down on the workforce needed.

“It cuts down on man power, but it makes poor service here,” Ward I alderman Louis Buntin said.

Officials plan to continue to seek answers but did not take any action on the matter.

The board did receive a copy of a new city ordinance that would limit households to any combination of four “typically uncaged” pets. Officials have discussed various options to try and limit the feral cat population in town, including licensing fees to better track pets. The issue came up earlier this year, and initially, the city discussed various catch-and-release and euthanization programs.

Those were bypassed due to cost and man power associated with them.

Legal counsel looked up similar cat ordinances before drafting Dearborn’s, and the board opted to stay simple with the initial request. They plan to review the new ordinance before voting on it.

Dearborn city attorney Dan Fowler said the language used is designed to specifically target dogs and cats while not including pets such as fish, hamsters, gerbils, snakes, etc.

“It does not mean you can have 10 dogs in a cage,” Ward I alderman Don Kerns said.

Because of this discussion, Ward I alderman Louis Buntin wants to start future dialogue about the ability of Dearborn residents to house chickens on their property. Currently, there’s no ordinance allowing this type of animal, but he believes that other major cities have created policies, which means that Dearborn should be able to handle it as long as there is no major opposition.

“If there’s nobody that cares, I think it’s time we allow people to do that with guidelines so it doesn’t become a nuisance,” Buntin said, adding that he would favor groups of chickens with no rooster.

The board also revisited a local resident’s concern that a utility company’s work has led to flooding on his property.

However, a recent meeting with officials from Platte-Clay Electric Co-op and a survey of the affected area convinced Buntin that other factors were the issue. Steve Peek, the resident at 403 Main St., claimed a few years back Platte-Clay Electric Co-op ran an electrical line through his property that apparently bisected a natural spring. Soon after, he began to experience pockets of water buildup, along with other nearby properties.

In the years since, the problem has worsened, and pictures taken late this summer showed a backyard that looked like a swamp. Peek said he can barely mow his yard due to the moisture.

However, other drainage issues coupled with heavy participation this past spring and summer are the likely culprit, according to Buntin.