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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
More problems were caused by the July 20 flash flood that hit the Misplay Road culvert project than just damage to an excavator, as previously reported.
The same surging wall of water than inundated contractor Aaron Braun’s excavator also widened the creek bed at the point of the construction, eroding some of the bank.
Now the concrete box culverts will not fit without additions added.
Ste. Genevieve County Commissioners met with Jeremy Manning of Smith & Company Engineering at the site, to ponder possible options.
The leading idea seems to be installing decking on both sides of the culvert that will allow stormwater to both go through the culvert and round its edges.
Unlike Ditch Road, residents on Misplay have another way in and out. Nevertheless, the commissioners wanted to make sure residents knew what was going on.
First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy and Deputy Jason Finch went house to house, handing out letters to residents, explaining that the road will be closed for “a four to five-hour window,” so they would not be caught off guard.
“We wanted to make sure there were no issues,” Stuppy said. “I didn’t know any other way to make sure they were aware.”
Presiding Commissioner Randy Ruzicka reiterated how fortunate everyone involved was that there were no injuries or worse when the “wall of water,” as Road and Bridge Foreman Scott Schmieder described it, came surging through.
“Even if someone’s a great swimmer, nobody is a match for that kind of force,” Ruzicka said.
The second Ditch Road culvert was being put in late last week without incident.
COUNTY ADOPTS SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
The commissioners approved changes to the county’s employee handbook, dealing with social media use. It will be given to department heads to dispense to employees.
“We’re trying to keep up with the times,” Ruzicka said. He added that the topic has been widely discussed at state and regional meetings and has “a lot of gray area” in balancing individuals’ rights with responsibilities. He noted that, “If they work for us, they’re a representative of us” while they are online.
COMMISSIONERS GIVE STATEMENT ON SB-190
The commissioners discussed Missouri Senate Bill 190 and drafted an official statement on the tax-relief bill.
The bill, similar to a Missouri House bill, would reduce the real property tax for homeowners aged 65 and older.
According to the bill summary, “The amount of the property tax credit shall be equal to the difference between the real property tax liability on the homestead in a given year minus the real property tax liability on such homestead in the year in which the taxpayer became an eligible taxpayer.”
Therefore, a 70-year-old who has owned his/her home for 35 years, would in essence be paying the same real property tax he/she paid in 1988 – if county officials are able to determine what that amount had been, in the pre-computer age.
Critics of the bill and its similar HB-1542 have alleged that it would cost the state some $319 million a year in revenue, an average of $2.75 million per county.
The commissioners have serious concerns about the bill, which is another in a long line of what they call “unfunded mandates,” expensive tasks the state government demands counties and cities do, without providing any additional funding to pay for them.
The difficulty in finding 30- to 60-year-old tax records is one of the inherent problems the commissioners see in the proposed law.
“Unfortunately, the amendment to the existing statute is so vaguely written as passed as to be essentially unworkable at this time and any comments or positions taken about SB190 will simply be speculative and subject to change,” the commission’s written statement said.
The commissioners have consulted with County Assessor Linda Wagner, and Collector Kim Gielow, as well as attorneys and others. Finding out how many senior home owners the county would also prove problematic, since Wager’s office does not record ages.
The commissioners are taking no immediate action, since the bill would not affect 2023 taxes.
“As currently written, SB190 does not affect 2023 property taxes,” the statement said. “Therefore the commission has determined that we are unable to take action or have an official position as further clarifications will have to be undertaken by the state of Missouri before implementation. With the openness of this legislation, there is also the likelihood of litigation that will further complicate and modify implementation.”
The commissioners suggested that concerned citizens should contact their state officials, District 145 Representative Rick Frances (573-751-5912) and State Senator Elaine Gannon (573- 751-4008).
• Another pest was discovered in the courthouse. It was expected that Trapper Joe’s Nuisance Wildlife Control would be on the scene this week to service the courthouse and two other county buildings.
• Schmieder received a complaint by a man who said his car windshield and paint job were damaged by chips coming out of a county truck. Ruzicka called the individual and told him to take the vehicle to a shop and get an estimate.
• Marberry met with Grayco Roofing Consultants President Steve Gray at the community center regarding the condensation stains on walls by the pool area. He said they now have a “game plan” in place to deal with the issue.
• Reports were given on meetings the commissioners had attended, including the New Bourbon Regional Port Authority, the Southeast Missouri Solid Waste District and the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission, as well as the Southeast Missouri Transportation Advisory Committee.