By ERIC X. VICCARO
Earlier this year, the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen formed a subcommittee to study city services.
The subcommittee comprised of Ward 2’s Bob Donovan and Joe Prince and Ashley Armbruster, both from Ward 4.
The subcommittee brainstormed many ideas, and one of them came to fruition at last Thursday’s regularly scheduled board of aldermen meeting.
After several executive sessions and negotiations, Alliance Water Resources, Inc., was chosen to administer Ste. Genevieve’s street and parks services moving forward.
“Alliance, the board of aldermen believes, will bring the same efficiencies as the water and sewer department,” city administrator Happy Welch said in a telephone interview with the Herald on Friday afternoon.
Welch said, through the board, Alliance will provide better training and corporate support for the street and parks departments.
Another factor in the decision was safety, as noted in a pair of recent street and parks department missteps recounted in previous editions of the Herald.
Field operations supervisor Gary Roth was still concerned with employee insurance and vacation pay during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Roth asked about how vacation pay was figured into the budget. Meanwhile, Armbruster once again touted the savings the city will enjoy with Alliance providing street and park services.
Mayor Paul Hassler quickly stopped the public comment period, since it appeared personnel matters were going to be on full display in a public meeting yet again.
Alliance also handles street and park services in Bowling Green, located northwest of St. Louis, and Elsberry, like Ste. Genevieve in close proximity to the Mississippi River.
The board of aldermen approved Bill No. 4448, but with a different contract figure. The new agreement was for $419,434, or $34,952.83 per month.
Ward 3 Alderman Mike Raney wanted reassurance of the savings before making his decision. City attorney Mark Bishop said the board of aldermen were approving the revised numbers, down from the original price tag of $458,280.
After the first reading was accepted, Ward 1 Aldermen Gary Smith expedited the bill for a second reading. Smith made a motion to accept the second and final reading, with a second from Donovan.
The bill passed by a 6-1-1 vote, with Ward 2 Alderman Michael “Buck” Jokerst casting the lone “no” vote. Ward 1Alderwoman Susie Johnson was absent from the session.
In turn, Welch noted the board of aldermen would now approve the Fiscal Year 2022 budget, marked Exhibit A, with the Alliance contract fees included.
Alliance’s contract makes up part of the operational budget. In the enterprise/dedicated funds, $121,579 will go toward parks and $547,021 for streets – or $668,600 total.
Had city leaders kept the status quo, $95,765 (parks) and $292,563 (streets) would have been spent for salaries and benefits – plus $39,035 for park operations and $258,825 for streets. The sum for these four line items totals $686,188.
The accepted budgeted amount covers supplies, equipment and other services Alliance provides, Welch noted.
Alliance will have the street, parks, water and sewer operations contracts through Sept. 30, 2026.
As part of the memorandum of agreement, seven current city employees would be offered employment from Alliance.
Those seven are Roth, and six employees listed as full-time maintenance personnel — Geoffrey Duvall, Matthew Wolk, Tom Mattison, Johnnie Tarrillion, Krue Colville and Bart Fallert.