Work Session Covers Three Topics

By ERIC X. VICCARO

eviccaro@stegenherald.com

The City of Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen on March 11 conducted a special work session with three topics.

Those topics were a comprehensive plan grant for Ste. Genevieve, personnel and policy changes and whether to hand out board packets in advance in an earlier fashion.

The work session occurred after the aldermen had a 20-minute executive session to discuss the possible purchase of real estate.

City administrator Happy Welch noted – in a memorandum to the board – the city has not put together a future comprehensive plan since 1997.

“Most comprehensive plans are acceptable for up to 15 years,” Welch noted in the memo. “But, now it is recommended that minor updates are done every five years because of the quick changes going on around us.”

The Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission (SEMO RPC) has grant funding available this fiscal year – which will cut the city’s cost in half. Jeremy Tanz, executive director of the SEMO RPC, recently wrote to Welch and community development administrator David Bova.

The comprehensive plan will cost $55,000, with half of the funding stemming from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. That means the city’s portion will be $27,500 – widely viewed as a bargain.

Tanz reported the plan will include a several areas covering the following: population, economic analysis, existing and future land use, transportation, community facilities, tourism, disaster resilience and recovery, capital improvements, planning program and strategic and implementation plans.

POLICY CHANGES

Welch recently received recommendation from local firm Lakenan Insurance, who had Sonus Benefits Human Resources conduct a review of the city’s personnel manual.

Sonus Benefits, an agency based in Sunset Hills, recommended the city adopt both mission and vision statements.

Welch distributed an email to the board covering the changes.

“We have some minor tweaks that we can also include in the personnel manual that we wish to include involving USERRA and take-home vehicles,” Welch said in a memorandum on the matter.

What’s more, the city’s auditing firm – the St. Louis-based Sikich, formerly Hauschild – added directions to the accounting policy the city drafted last year..

Sonus also reviewed and completed a future anti-fraud policy the city will soon likely adopt.

Other recommendations concerned updates to the following: diversity, equal opportunity, discrimination and harassment policies.

The highlighted change in language in the workplace harassment policy reads, “that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”

A change, it will now be “allowable” for field operations supervisor Gary Roth to take home a work vehicle.

Except for police vehicles, the city fleet will remain at the office after hours unless said personnel is called out.

There also will be a change in a subsection on military leave, which was originally enacted at a city meeting on June 25, 2015.

Employees will continue to receive full pay while on leave for 15-day training assignments and shorter absences “per calendar year,” with “per calendar year” the newly-worded specification.

Under the accounting policy, steps were now written out for wire transfers and both major and minor water bill adjustments. Both city treasurer Sue Schweiss and Welch highlighted new key sections.

The city of Ste. Genevieve’s new anti-fraud policy is extremely detailed, covering eight pages.

The new policy includes language regarding scope, definitions, what constitutes fraud, employee misconduct and other duties. The city has designated Welch as the fraud officer.

In addition, the policy covers record keeping, training programs, whistleblower protection, monitoring and fraud reporting.

Welch said these recommendations will be brought back to the board for approval within the next month.

Welch reported some of these policies previously had not been in writing, nor found in the city’s code book, which is available for viewing under the “city codes” tab at the bottom of the website, www.stegenevieve.org.