City Looks At Budgets, ‘Wish Lists’ For FY 2021

By ERIC X. VICCARO

eviccaro@stegenherald.com

During the city of Ste. Genevieve’s regularly scheduled Board of Aldermen meeting on Aug. 27, there was a public hearing on the proposed tax rate for Fiscal Year 2021.

There was no public comment during the hearing, and the city’s elected officials opted not to raise the tax rate – keeping it at 1.0009 per $100 of taxable valuation.

“I think the board wanted to keep their promise not to raise the rate,” city administrator Happy Welch said .

County Clerk Sue Wolk, in a detailed statement, reported the aggregate assessed valuation was $69,301,649 – less a tax-increment financing deduction of $226,286 – bringing current year taxes to $69,075,363.

New construction accounted for $591,180 in the overall assessment figures.

Welch explained the board of aldermen didn’t want to raise the levy this year because of a recent increase.

Two years ago, the tax levy was raised $0.2684 as part of an increase in police department salaries stemming from the passage of a dedicated proposition.

In April 2019, Proposition P passed with 53.5 percent voting in for higher wages for city law enforcement.

The tax rate is derived from five areas – general fund, cemetery, band, parks and recreation and public safety.

General revenue accounts for most of the levy at 0.4812, with public safety next – now at $0.2693.

Parks and recreation accounts for $0.1251, band $0.0773 and cemetery $0.0480.

In turn, city officials were then able to approve – for the most part – a wish list of items requested from Ste. Genevieve department heads.

Welch, along with city leaders, rehashed the wish list during a work session after that public hearing.

Unlike last year, thanks in part to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the city will be able to tackle several street projects throughout Ste. Genevieve.

There will be roughly $65,000 earmarked for construction of a new retaining wall and associated street work at the intersection of Washington and Fifth Streets. The wall is roughly 100 feet. Street repair will be needed in a 250-300 square foot area, using a 2 1/2-inch overlay.

Welch said he expects $245,970 to be budgeted overall for street improvement projects.

“That’s what we are shooting for,” Welch said. “We caught a lot of flack because we didn’t do anything this year.”

The street department also will be able to purchase a new dump truck and purchase a 24-foot trailer for hauling.

The police department will be able to purchase two new vehicles, with the associated equipment, for $96,000. Police chief Eric Bennett would like to buy SUVs, rather than sedans.

Welch said he’s expecting the police department remodel to be completed during the next budget year.

The project will take 8-12 weeks, and include new offices for Bennett and various staff, addition of a restroom and reconfiguring access points within city hall.

The fire department will receive $45,000 for a needed painting project, $10,000 for four new sets of turnout gear, and $52,000 for a one-ton truck designed to haul brush equipment for rural fires. Ste. Genevieve has a “mutual aid department,” Welch explained.

The budget also includes $350,000 for water main construction, $120,000 for sewer mains, $17,000 in tourism tax for related expenses and $10,000 for the cemetery maintenance.

The tourism department will receive $3,000 for technology upgrades, and $30,000 for marketing.

Administration will receive $36,000 for technology upgrades, which may include a new, updated website.