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Hassler Wants Ste. Genevieve Aldermen To Move Forward On Tourism, City Hall

Mayor Paul Hassler last week expressed a desire to see the city of Ste. Genevieve move forward in addressing both the vacant director of tourism position and the City Hall renovation project.

With a shorter agenda than usual for last Thursday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, much of the evening’s discussion took place during city administrator Martin Toma’s report and near the end of the meeting.

Toma reported that he had checked with other cities in the state to see how tourism was handled and how much those tourism directors were paid.

He spoke with the Missouri Division of Tourism, as well as the cities of Cape Girardeau, Farmington, Pevely, Festus and Washington.

Cape Girardeau, with casino money helping generate revenue, is on the high end, paying $70,000. It is actually Cape’s downtown organization that funds the position, Toma said, not the city itself. That individual has more responsibilities than Ste. Genevieve’s would, including directing physical improvements to the downtown area.

Farmington, meanwhile, employs two part-time people for a combined $40,000.

Festus and Pevely do not have full-time people. Washington is the only one of the cities where the director is an actual city employee. The pay range goes from $40,000 to $70,000.

He said $45,000 is generally considered a starting figure.

The city had been paying Sandra Cabot, who brought extensive marketing experience to the job, $63,122 for 2019.

At one point the board seemed to favor a considerably scaled-back version of the job, focusing on running the Welcome Center, with a salary of around $35,000. When Toma drafted a job description to fit that scenario, however, it was opposed and a motion passed by a 5-3 vote to advertise for a full-fledged tourism director with essentially the same duties that Cabot had.

“So, I guess the question is, ‘What’s next?’” Toma asked.

“Well, I think what’s next, for me, is we’ve decided we’re going to do a tourism director at our last meeting, we’ve talked about how much we’re going to spend,” Hassler said. “We talked about $35,000. … It looks like $40,000 is the go-to. … I think, depending on the individual you interview and depending on what the qualifications are, I don’t think it’s  going to be an easy position to fill.

“But I’d like to start moving on this. We have a budget that’s been approved for tourism; in that budget is a tourism director, and I believe we need to refill that position and move forward on it.” …

Late in the meeting, Hassler said the board also needed to make a decision on the City Hall renovation.

“We’ve been talking about it over a year now,” he said. “We need to make a decision on it.”

He expressed appreciation to the committee that has been investigating the situation but stressed the need for a decision.

“We need to soon make a decision on whether we are going to invest in this building or not,” he said.

Toma said the weekend, with heavy rains expected, would be a good time to visit the basement, where Ste. Genevieve Community Access Television is located, to see the how much stormwater leaks into the building.

See complete story in the January 15 edition of the Herald.

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