$100 fine proposed for smoking marijuana in public

Bob Foos

Local marijuana restrictions are in the process of being adjusted now that it’s legal in Missouri for anyone over 21 years of age to possess and use marijuana.

On Monday, the Webb City Council accepted first reading of a council bill to amend sections of the code dealing with marijuana.

City Attorney Troy Salchow summarized that the purpose of the bills is to “allow us to enforce the small amount that we can enforce.”

For instance, anyone smoking marijuana in a public place would be fined up to $100, as authorized by the Missouri constitution.

Anyone under 21 caught with marijuana can pay a fine up to $100 or take the option of attending drug education or counseling.

The fine for growing marijuana in an unlocked space would be subject to a fine up to $250 and forfeiture of the plants. Plants visible from a public place could also draw a fine no larger than $250.

Finances: bad and good

City Administrator Carl Francis reported it appears the city will have to pay 31% more each year for workers compensation insurance. That will amount to $75,000 to $80,000 more each year.

He said he and Financial Administrator Tracy Craig have explored all options but see no way around it. 

After a review, he said “everything’s fine with our safety procedures. We’ve just had a stretch of bad luck” with on-the-job injury claims. The only thing to do he said is try hard during the next three years to try to reduce the number of injuries.

It was noted that sales tax receipts, after five months into the current fiscal year, are up 7.21%. Collections of the 1-cent sales tax for the five months total $985,358.

Use tax receipts are even better – up 10.2%. Revenue from the tax for online purchases has increased steadily since Webb City voters approved the use tax in August 2017. It’s expected to bring in $600,000 this year.


Water demand exceeds supply

Francis also reported that the city’s growth and demand for water has exceeded the system’s capability – even after the new well on Homestead Drive has come on line.

In fact, he said public works has had to open the Joplin connection to purchase water a couple of times from Missouri American when demand has exceeded the city system’s production capability.

A solution he floated is to renovate the unused well below the main water tower. There is still American Rescue Plan Act funding that hasn’t been earmarked. He suggested the money that was to be used as a match for the second roundabout grant could be used to repair the well. The roundabout grant request wasn’t approved.

In other action, the council:

• Allowed the police department to accept a 50% Peace Officers Grant in the amount of $19,999 from the American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Police Chief Don Melton wrote the grant application in order to purchase 24 storage cabinets for police vehicles and 30 tire deflation devices. An equal match will come from the general fund.

• Accepted a $22,706 bid from Joplin Supply for the purchase of 10 replacement fire hydrants.