On June 3, the City Council of Independence, Missouri passed an ordinance prohibiting the installation of AMI/Smart Meters anywhere in the city and voiding all city AMI contracts.
“The City of Independence including the Mayor, City Council, City Manager, City Employees, and or anyone on their behalf shall be prohibited from installing AMI, also known as Smart meters at any location within the city limits of Independence or on any customer of municipally owned utility known as Independence Power and Light, and shall be prohibited from entering into a contract with any entity for the purposes of installing AMI, also known as Smart meters at any location within the city limits of Independence or on any customer of municipally owned utility known as Independence Power and Light. Furthermore, Non-ordinance action Item number 2, defeated on 03-18-2019, and passed by city council on 04/01/2019 authorizing “Council action is requested to authorize the City Manager to enter into a contract with Core & Main for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for the Water, Water Pollution Control, and Power & Light Departments”, shall be voided and any contracts entered as a result of non-ordinance action item number 2 shall be canceled.”.
After the council adopted an AMI contract on April 1 in a highly irregular and secretive manner, residents collected signatures to put the issue on the ballot for a community vote. When the ballot initiative qualified for the next election, the city council decided to take this action to avoid a community vote.
This ordinance will expire after one year, and residents will have to create a permanent ban within that time.
This has been a long, expensive, and strange road. Independence has studied AMI since 2015, with many residents opposed to Smart Meters. In March, the city council voted on proposals by two AMI companies — Core & Main and Honeywell — but neither could not get a majority vote for approval.
Residents thought the issue was dead, but, at the April 1 city council meeting, councilman Curt Dougherty abruptly made a motion to approve the Core & Main AMI contract, even though it was not on the agenda. The motion was immediately seconded by Councilman Roberson. The mayor called for a vote, and in a virtually empty city council chambers, the motion passed 4-3, with Mayor Weir and Councilman Perkins also voting Aye.
Residents were outraged and immediately organized an initiative referendum as well as a recall campaign against Mayor Eileen Weir. At the next regular city council meeting, residents packed the chambers carrying signs and flip-flops, saying this was the flip-flop council.
The initiative referendum required 3000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. When all the petitions were handed in, the Election Board certified 5035 signatures.
The city council discussed the expense of putting this to a community vote. Under the city charter, they were required to either do this or adopt the language of the initiative as an ordinance.
On June 3, the city council adopted the initiative language prohibiting Smart Meters and voiding the AMI contract on a 6-1 vote, with Curt Dougherty the only opposing vote.
Interestingly, despite media coverage leading up to the June 3 meeting, I didn’t find any TV or print media coverage of the city council final vote.
Councilman Dougherty did not recuse himself throughout this saga, despite a conflict of interest: Dougherty’s employer had the Honeywell contract for Smart Meter installation. It is unknown who had the contract for Core & Main. It will be interesting to see if the state fair political practices board investigates this.
April 1, 2019 Independence City Council meeting
19:13:00 Councilman Dougherty interjects a motion to approve AMI.
April 2, 2019 City of Independence press release
April 15, 2019 City Council meeting
Public comments beginning at 2:09, followed by Council discussion of opt-out, putting AMI to a public vote. Motion by Van Camp to put Smart Meters on the ballot fails.
June 3, 2019 City Council meeting
Agenda, Bill 19-031, Ordinance 19014
Council action beginning at 1:37:00