photo provided by the City of West Plains.

Entertainment District permits open containers

WP city council also talks tall grass & budget amendment
The West Plains City Council passed multiple bills into city ordinances during its regular meeting on Monday, April 15. Among these bills were enacting the new entertainment district, changes to grass nuisance laws, and a change to the current budget. Two resolutions were also passed that authorized agreements dealing with other organizations. 
 
The West Plains Downtown Entertainment District bill, Ordinance 4769, is passed into law and brings with it an Open Cup policy. The district is set up to include most of downtown West Plains, the Civic Center, Washington Avenue down to First Street, and ending west at Langston Avenue. The law will allow people to carry no more than one open cup of alcoholic beverage, beer, and/or wine, and consume the drink within the confines of the district. This does not allow people to enter other businesses with an open or closed container of alcohol they purchased elsewhere. For businesses to allow for patrons to leave their business with an open cup, the business must have a valid permit to sell alcoholic beverages. 
 
The newly passed Ordinance 4767 changes how tall the grass and weeds in a lawn can be before it is declared a public health hazard. The law requires grass and weeds be cut to a height of not more than seven (7) inches. The city can then give notice to the registered owner, occupant, or agent of the owner of the failure to cut the grass and, if found guilty, fine the individual $50 to $300 plus a daily fine of $10 until the violation is corrected. The law also gives the city the ability, when necessary, to enter the property, cut the grass and weeds to eliminate the health hazard, and bill the registered landowner for the cost. This means landlords will be on the hook for paying the city if their renters fail to keep their grass cut to less than seven inches or let an unoccupied lot become overgrown. 
 
The budget amendment, Ordinance 4768, reduced parts of the city budget by over $1.4 million. The reason for these offsets comes from significant changes in the funds include previously approved 2023 budget appropriations and grant projects. Most of the balances are offset due to ending fund balances for 2023 being higher than those estimated during the 2024 budget process. The amended budget included a net decrease in governmental funds by $466,280 and a net decrease in cash balance of utility funds of $981,270.
 
The city council passed Resolution 2024-07 that approves an agreement between the city and CivicPlus, LLC, an IT company based in Manhattan, Kansas, for the purpose of handling the city's published and online code of ordinances, and Resolution 2024-08, a memorandum of understanding between the city and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for the purpose of making a consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvement grant application. The latter resolution also allows the city administrator to execute the application, grant agreement, and other necessary documents dealing with the grant.
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