Auditor: City Has ‘Clean Bill Of Health’

By ERIC X. VICCARO

[email protected]

Victoria Dailey, an audit director from the St. Louis-based accounting firm Sikich, made a personal appearance at last Thursday’s regularly scheduled Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen meeting.

Dailey made a near 20-minute presentation to the board regarding the city’s 2020 financial report.

She gave the city of Ste. Genevieve’s finances a “clean bill of health,” with some minor areas of improvement.

“There are a couple of things we need to change in policy,” Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch said, “but, we can do those pretty easily.”

Sikich made the following comments and recommendations.

“We noted the City prepared an accounting policies and procedures manual,” the report states. “However, we noted procedures and approval regarding water and sewer adjustments and wire transfers could be added.”

The report made these recommendations in order to help “improve the quality of the manual.”

Welch said the city will heed those suggestions, and make changes accordingly.

Every year across the county, incorporated cities and towns undergo an audit process, which in Ste. Genevieve’s case covered the period through Sept. 30, 2020.

The audit report was quite detailed, with Dailey discussing everything from fire hydrant flushing to the employees’ pension plans.

“We didn’t find any issues with internal control,” added Dailey, who spoke to the board through the Zoom teleconferencing application.

A typical audit covers areas such as long-term debt, revenues and expenditures as well as capital assets. Welch said the overall financial figures were in line with his expectations.

COVID-19 DISCUSSION

As more Ste. Genevieve County residents receive even their first dose of the Moderna vaccine, discussions on the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic seem to be waning.

Ste. Genevieve County Health Department administrator Jennifer Mueller wasn’t present for discussions.

Leaders briefly discussed the most recent numbers.

“Nationwide, the numbers are coming down.” Ste. Genevieve Mayor Paul Hassler noted. “I think we are in better shape than other counties (in Missouri).”

In the most recent numbers furnished by the county health department on Monday, Feb. 24, there have been three confirmed probable deaths due to COVID-19, with 17 overall.

There were currently 11 active cases, with 230 probable and 1,727 total confirmed cases.

The state of Missouri has developed a website (covidvaccine.mo.gov), which provides all sorts of information in dashboard form for citizens to glean.

According to the website, the state of Missouri has received 120,340 Pfizer and Moderna doses for the period from Feb. 22-28.

Mueller in a previous discussion with the board noted Ste. Genevieve County is receiving only the Moderna vaccine.

Fifty percent of the vaccines are going to what the state has termed as high throughput health centers, with an additional 20 percent for mass vaccination events and 10 percent each from local public health agencies and federally qualified health facilities.

More than 1.2 million total vaccine doses have been administered, with 816,908 Missourians who have received at least one dose. The state is averaging giving 26,676 doses per day.

As of last Saturday afternoon, 14.8 percent of Ste. Genevieve County residents have been administered at least one dose.

APPROVALS

Aldermen approved, with some hesitation, a three-year contract with K&J Landscaping of Ste. Genevieve to provide lawn mowing and maintenance for Memorial and Crestlawn Cemeteries.

The price tag for the contract is $50,400.

Ward 2 Alderman Robert Donovan thought it would be best to give K&J a one-year contract.

However, Welch said – in the long run – it would be cheaper to give them a three-year deal instead.

Ward 4 Alderwoman Ashley Armbruster asked about the contract’s performance clause and whether summer help could take care of mowing “in house.”

Ste. Genevieve field operations supervisor Gary Roth noted it typically takes a crew of five 1-1/2 days per week for lawn care at both cemeteries.

Kerry and Jennifer Schmidt from K&J Landscaping were present; but, didn’t speak during the board’s discussions.

Welch said he hopes to involve more bidders when this contract is up again at the end of 2023 – through email to local landscaping entities.

In the end, the measure passed 5-1-1-1, with Armbruster casting the lone “no” vote, Donovan abstained and Gary Smith was absent from the proceedings.

Aldermen accepted an ordinance allowing Mayor Hassler to enter an agreement with Bader Land Surveying, Inc., to provide services on a section of levee property for future conveyance to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Welch reported the contract with Bader Land Surveying, based in Ste. Genevieve, will not exceed a cost of $5,000.

City leaders approved a wide-ranging consent agenda, which included a request from Gearheaz, LLC, for monthly street closures during the organization’s monthly car cruises from May through September 2021.

Ed James and Mark Fallert were both reappointed to the Ste. Genevieve Industrial Development Authority Board.

Tourism director Toby Carrig requested the board table a pair of second readings regarding the coordination of downtown tours. The board honored Carrig’s request.

The board also honored Ste. Genevieve Fire Chief Ken Steiger’s request to reject a bid for turnout gear for the department.