Marthasville leaders criticized for communication issues

By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

Marthasville city leaders were criticized during their monthly meeting July 22 over complaints of a lack of public communication from City Hall.

“There has been a drastic amount of complaining of citizens feeling uninformed over the last few months,” said resident Lea Welter. “The lack of communication is a major issue.”

Welter said residents recently were caught by surprise when Grace Hauling, the city’s former trash service provider, removed waste bins throughout the city without any prior notice to residents. She said it was only afterward residents were properly informed that this was part of the transition to new trash provider Meridian Waste, which brought new trash bins.

She added that the city has also not addressed questions over the cost of the new trash service. The entire situation has created confusion and frustration, Welter said.

For more than a week in July, residents also complained that they weren’t able to reach anyone at City Hall, only later learning the city clerk had been away due to illness.

Another problem Welter mentioned is that the board of aldermen’s agendas and meeting minutes haven’t been regularly posted to Marthasville’s city website since 2017.

The lack of information about city meetings makes it difficult for residents to know what their city government is doing, she said, especially for people who work or have obligations that prevent them from attending meetings.

“I’m not sure why this stopped, but it was a very helpful resource for some citizens,” Welter said. “The minutes are being typed up anyway for record, so I’m not understanding why they can’t be uploaded to a website to keep the community better informed.”

She added that city leaders have more than once rescheduled their monthly meetings without notifying residents through the city website or Facebook page.

Mayor David Lange, responding to the criticism, said the city clerk’s absence was part of the reason there has been less communication lately. He also said Grace Hauling decided to pick up their trash bins without notifying the city, so City Hall couldn’t have provided advance notice to residents.

As far as board of aldermen meeting minutes and agendas not being published online, Lange said city staff simply haven’t had time.

“I’ve seen posts stating we don’t want to put them there. (But) we’ve always put them on our website,” Lange said. “Our website administrator has been kind of lacking. We’re going to switch website administrators ... so that starts getting done again.”

The city government has also come under fire from an area advocate for transparent and limited government. Josh Poore of Warrenton, who runs the “Liberty in Warren County” Facebook page, said he sent multiple Sunshine Law requests for the city’s missing meeting minutes, as well as salary information, and that city officials were slow to provide the documents.

Poore also claims the city charged nearly $100 in research and copy fees to produce digital copies of the documents he requested.

“How much research can possibly be involved in finding your own meeting minutes?” Poore commented on his Facebook page.

He said he has filed complaints with the Missouri Attorney General’s Office over the city’s handling of his records requests.

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