Approximately 50 people attended Tuesday night’s community meeting presented by city officials at St. Clair High School’s cafeteria.
St. Clair City Administrator Travis Dierker and Mayor Ron Blum presented on different aspects of city government, accomplishments and recent activities. Additionally, members of local organizations talked about their group and how to get involved.
Blum first spoke about how successful the multiple events went during the solar eclipse weekend and on the actual day, Aug. 18-21.
“It went off extremely well, without a hitch and we have (received) a lot of positive feedback from that event,” Blum said.
He was “truly amazed” at how the day after the solar eclipse, there was no trash left behind. Blum read a couple of positive emails from visitors in regards to their stay, how they were treated by the community and the events.
Dierker later commented that the city earned 15 percent more in tax revenue in the month of August compared to the same time last year.
“With that amount of people (who came) into the community, there was a lot of behind the scenes work done to prepare for this. I have to say that was a great success as well,” Dierker said.
“Overall, we want to just keep that momentum going. It was very positive.”
The St. Clair Regional Airport officially closed Nov. 13, and it has been 11 years in the making, according to Blum. The reason behind closing the airport was to give “every chance to grow our community,” Blum said.
“In order for our community to grow, we need to take charge and offer some access to retail development and provide opportunities.”
The city will be able to develop 80 acres of land. Dierker later commented that due to the closure, aviation easements above surrounding properties are now eliminated.
“With the airport closing, that removes a lot of restrictions when it comes to air flight,” Dierker said.
Dierker explained how the city operates and certain aspects such as sales tax, revenue, the city budget and more. He said St. Clair is a fourth inclass city because of the population size.
The city has 30 full time employees and one part time employee including administration, police officers and public works, according to Dierker. He said his job as administrator is to maintain the day-to-day operations and report back to the mayor and board of aldermen.
He noted elected officials such as mayor, who serve a four year-term, aldermen, who serve a two-year term, judge, who serves a two-year term, city collector, four year term, and chief of police, four year term.
Personal property and real estate tax rates are set in August. The city’s tax rate is 72 cents per $100 appraised value.
“It’s very minimal (what) the city gets when it comes to personal property,” Dierker said.
The city’s annual operating budget is $2.4 million. Different funds include water, sewer, parks, street improvement, half-cent tax and transportation.
“Total of all funds, and this varies each year depending on the amount of grants we’ve received, is $5.5 million,” Dierker said.
Revenues come from personal property, sales and franchise tax. Expenditures include employee salaries, operating expenses and capital expenditures, among others.
To help with projects, the city applies for federal funding. Over the last five years, the city has earned $2.4 million-worth of federal grants for projects such as the Bardot Street project, Springfield Street, Main Street and more.
Also over the years, the city has received $175,000 in water and sewer grants as well.
City buildings have had energy-saving upgrades including solar, new heating and air conditioning and lighting. Through energy loans, the city was able to provide those upgrades and the savings from those upgrades and paying back the loans, according to Dierker.
“The city has had a balanced budget for 10 years in a row, which is a pretty awesome thing,” Dierker said.
The city’s last four audits have been “nearly perfect,” he added.
The city also has scored 100 percent in evaluations with their insurance provider, Missouri Intergovernmental Risk Management Association, or MIRMA, for having and following safety programs the past two years.
“Our employees are working their hardest to make sure that they’re staying safe while on the job,” Dierker said.
He noted the St. Clair logo and the school district’s logo on the water tower near the American Legion, as well as the billboard that put up in over the summer noting the city’s rank for first time home buyers.
Dierker stated how St. Clair is growing. He mentioned the businesses that have expanded in the last five years such as Dana’s Shaved Ice, ATRO, Ozark Die Casting and more.
He also mentioned businesses have that opened in the area such as O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Dollar Plus, among others.
“We’re not a dying community, we’re a growing community,” Dierker said.
Dierker encouraged residents to get involved by volunteering, attend meetings, participate in local organizations, keep properties looking nice, pick up trash, stay informed, compliment first responders and members of the community and spread positivity.
“Let the positive out weigh the negative. Make sure the truth prevails,” Dierker said about Facebook and other social media posts about the city.
“I see the negativity that goes through there and a lot of that is skepticism, a lot of that is just fake news, people don’t know the all details. I just encourage people to (know) the whole story,” Dierker said.
For any questions about something that might be on social media, Dierker advised to call him at city hall.
Government 101 Continued
Dierker described the different groups associated with the city.
There is a tax increment financing district within the city, according to Dierker.
A portion of taxes collected within the district will go toward future developments including sidewalks, lighting, parking lots, infrastructure and more. The TIF committee has nine members.
The Transportation Development District group has four members and the district surrounds Interstate 44 and Highway 47, Dierker said.
A couple of years ago, the city added stoplights by the interstate, as well as the service road. The TDD paid a portion of those finances and because of that, residents in that area pay an additional 1 percent tax.
The Industrial Development Authority, or IDA, is made up of five members.
“We’re working with them to enhance our community and work towards development,” Dierker said.
The IDA will help determine how to develop the ariport.
P&Z consists of seven members who oversee site plans, building needs and make sure ordinances are followed, according to Dierker.