By ERIC X. VICCARO
A big decision is looming on the future of the Ste. Genevieve streets and parks department operations.
Former mayor Dick Greminger chimed in. One town resident also expressed his concerns. Aldermen also shared their thoughts on this sensitive process.
Originally, the agenda featured the first reading, “approving an additional memorandum of agreement with Alliance Water Resources, Inc., adding street and parks management and personnel.”
Throughout the course of discussions, plus a roughly 90-minute executive session, the matter was ultimately tabled.
Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch said the issue will be revisited at the next board meeting slated for Thursday, Sept. 9.
Welch said the board of aldermen would like additional time to negotiate a potential deal with Alliance Water Resources.
During a public comment period, city resident Bob Browne was concerned if each person currently working for the street and parks department would keep their job.
“I don’t want people to lose their jobs,” Browne said.
Mayor Paul Hassler tried to reassure Browne, telling him “yes.”
Greminger said Alliance Water Resources was brought aboard for water and sewer operations back in 2010 because the company “had a certain level of expertise the city didn’t have.”
Greminger questioned the difference between a proposed contract amount with Alliance and the current operational budget maintaining the status quo.
“I think it’s a waste of money,” Greminger said.
Greminger wondered what type of insurance and retirement plan would be offered for workers through a pact with Alliance. Missouri’s public workers are offered a retirement package through a program called LAGERS.
He also asked what scope of work Alliance would handle, noting how city employees went above and beyond expectations for the remodeled playground in Pinkley Park last year.
Field operations supervisor Gary Roth thought there were a lot of “unanswered questions,” and he’s concerned with employees staying with the city – should Alliance take over operations.
Roth said he was worried about training, and cross-training into other departments. He also talked about vacation pay, sick leave, clothing allowances and CDL testing and licensure.
Browne asked if the taxpayers should decide this issue.
All eight aldermen recently canvassed their constituents, asking for their input on this hot-button topic. They have heard pros and cons from citizens across the board, which served as a de facto survey.
There was no public comment concerning the tax rate, which will remain at one percent for the 2022 Fiscal Year. The tax features several components, general fund ($0.4812), cemetery ($0.0480), band ($0.0773), parks ($0.1251) and public safety ($0.2684).
In city operations, tax rates impact property owners. Meanwhile, sales taxes affect the general consumer, which help pay for capital improvement projects.
There was no drama surrounding Alliance Water Resources keeping the water/sewer operations contract. The bill passed unanimously, after Ward One Aldermen Gary Smith made a motion to accept it, seconded by Ward Two’s Buck Jokerst.
After city leaders passed the tax rate for FY22, discussions returned to the street/parks operations contract.