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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Two hundred thousand dollars will not go as far as it did 10 years ago – or even two years ago, for that matter.
The $200,000 set aside for street paving and repair was again a source of discussion at last Thursday night’s Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen meeting.
City Administrator Happy Welch reported that Tary Todd with Cochran Engineering had completed drawings for the N. Fourth Street repaving/stormwater plan, with an estimated cost of about $88,000. He noted that this was a section of the street that hadn’t been completed, due to drainage issues on the street and an inlet in the middle of a driveway.
“That’s that section that we had to hold off on because of the puddles that were collecting in front of houses,” Welch said. “This was going to be part of this year’s street repavement, but it’s going to require that we mill down, we replace some of the storm water so we get it out of people’s driveways, get it into the street where it needs to be, replacing sidewalks because they need to be elevated. You’re going to be wedging that street some. It’s the last section of North Fourth Street, and on Fourth Street in general, that we haven’t done, that we need to look at completing.”
Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan asked whether that cost was within the original estimate or whether it came as a surprise.
“Not surprised, but we had whatever discount we had from the construction because we didn’t do that section but it wasn’t that [much], obviously,” Welch said. “It was much less than that but that’s what it’s going to cost to complete the project as it’s…if we want to do it right.”
Donovan said he has “a lot of concern over that stuff.”
“We’re already strained, down to $200,000,” he said. “I’ve kind of lost track of how come we’re down that far, to $200,000. Any explanation why we’re down that far to $200,000?”
Welch said the paving figure was that low partially because of equipment that had to be purchased.
“Part of it was the equipment that we had scheduled to buy last year that’s moving over to this year and then we also moved money from last year to this year for the paving project, which then started up last year,” Welch said. “But it’s just we didn’t have as much in the way of reserves as what we had in the past. So, based on that and what the capital items were, it was best to hold it at $200,000 for this budget year. I think we’re going to get back on schedule next year because … we’ve had a better year of revenue for that transportation sales tax. We can revisit it, but we’re being conservative again with the equipment that we needed to buy.”
The need for replacing equipment, he reiterated, forced money to be used that otherwise would have gone for paving.
Donovan complained that paving seems to get “the short end of the stick.”
“Because, it seems like when we run over, that’s where cuts are made,” he said.
Welch told the board that he hoped to have a new tourism director hired by the end of the week. (He did. See story on Page 1A.)
New Ward 1 Alderman Patrick Fahey asked Welch what his impressions were of this year’s finalists.
“What was your general impression in terms of the interest in the position?” he asked. “Was it more than you thought or is it highly competitive?”
He also asked whether the candidates had seemed concerned about the rapid turnover rate the position has had the past four years,
“I’d say yes to all the above,” Welch said. “They’ve seen what’s happened over the last few years. But I think we had a more qualified group this time than what we had the last time – and maybe the last two times. But everybody brought something different to the table and we’re just working our way through those individuals to determine who would be the next tourism director. I think we had some really good candidates this time. My thanks to David [Bova] and the mayor for helping out with the interviews, and they felt the same way.”
Fire Chief Kenny Steiger reported that the department had made 24 calls in September, giving it 210 for the year. This was up 32 calls from last year.
He said another female had expressed interest in applying for the force. He said he was trying to find ways to “drum up interest” in volunteering.
He also updated the board on training and grants applied for.
Welch also gave the tourism report, noting that the revamped tourism website is operating well. He said listed upcoming events such as French Colonial America’s Night of the Werewolf and Pecanapalooza, which annually brings in 1,000-2,000 people. He said the recent milice encampment had drawn 153 people.
An ordinance providing for the issuing of special tax bills for sidewalk improvements done by the city passed on second reading.
Passing on first and second reading was an ordinance approving a tax-exempt equipment lease purchase agreement with First State Community Bank for a 2023 Dodge Durango and a 2024 Chevrolet Silverado for a principal amount not to exceed $113,112, with an annual interest rate of 6.23%.
When Donovan questioned the cost, Welch noted that cooperative programs where municipalities and other entities get special rates are no longer being offered. The city now has to pay normal retail prices.