By MARK EVANS
During last Thursday’s Ste. Genevieve County Commission meeting, the commissioners made decisions of a skid steer offer and a roofing bid and got some unwelcome news on a bridge.
The commissioners voted to accept a proposal by Fabick Cat to replace the county’s malfunctioning Caterpillar skid steer, allowing $37,500 trade-in for the old one.
The commissioners also agreed that the community center roof would be repaired in one step.
They voted to accept the alternate bid from Bade Roofing of $740,318. The St. Louis area company had the low bid of $582,058 for a base bid of just the main portion of the roof and another $158,26 do redo the surrounding portion.
The commissioners agreed that getting it all done at one time was better than doing part now and having to readdress the issue in a few years.
There was not complete agreement, however, on how to address the funding of the project. Most likely, it will come out of the county’s federal American Relief Plan Act (ARPA) money.
Before the vote was taken, First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy raised concerns about the situation. She noted that in less than a year, Nelson – who is not running for reelection – will be gone, leaving her and Second District Commissioner Randy Ruzicka to deal with any audits that come up if ARPA money is used. Stuppy will have two more years left in her current term and Ruzicka will either have two years left as Second District commissioner or will be starting a four-year term as presiding commissioner, depending on his November 2022 race against David Bova in the general election.
“It will be me and Randy dealing with it if we run it through ARPA and it doesn’t work,” Stuppy said.
Like the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, guidelines on how the ARPA funds may be spent have been vague and often contradictory. Any money spent that auditors later find was not eligible, must be paid back by the county. The county has been bouncing all potential uses for CARES and ARPA money off of attorney Ivan Schraeder to be sure it is being safe.
The roof money – which will probably come to more than $783,000 when other expenses are figured in – got Schraeder’s approval.
Nelson said that the Ste. Genevieve County Community Center Foundation cannot, by its own bylaws, pay for it, leaving it to the county.
“It’s our building and it has to be fixed,” he said.
Nelson also mentioned that Schraeder had approved it.
“We’ve gone with Ivan on everything so far,” he said.
Nelson said it would be “ridiculous” not to use ARPA money for the job. Stuppy was concerned that $500,000 is in the county budget for “construction expenses,” and that Schraeder has said the funds cannot be used for anything already in the budget.
Nelson countered that “construction” is too vague a category and would not cover the roof.
“Nothing (in the budget) says anything about roof repair,” he said, adding that the county does “all kinds of construction.”
He added that, even in a worst-case scenario and if an auditor would reject it, it is still a necessary repair and that there would be plenty of funds available to pay it back to the federal government.
Ruzicka asked if they could “get the ball rolling” and vote on the issue.
All three voted to proceed with the roof repair.