City Administrator Travis Dierker encouraged community members to get involved and become a cheerleader for the city to help St. Clair move forward during Wednesday’s Chamber meeting.
“Help St. Clair prosper and grow,” Dierker said. “It’s not all just about the money. A lot of it is keeping things as positive as possible.”
During the meeting, Dierker talked about the city’s budget, economic development, upcoming events and more. He explained that St. Clair is a fourth class city that is divided into two wards. He added that the different boards are the board of aldermen, planning and zoning, park board, board of adjustment, the industrial development authority (IDA), the enterprise enhanced zone (EEZ), a TIF committee and a tax development district.
“We always have openings on a bunch of different boards, so if you’re interested, feel free to reach out to me,” Dierker said.
In December, the board of aldermen approved a $6 million budget for 2019. St. Clair has six different funds including general, water and sewer, park, street improvement, half-cent sales tax and transportation tax, Dierker said. The city’s annual operating revenue is $2.6 million.
With more than 20 miles of water lines, more than 25 miles of sewer lines and more than 26 miles of roadway, he added that “The general revenue is very limited on what we can do.”
Dierker said expenditures include general operating expenses, personnel, professional services and capital expenditures. Over the past five years, the city has secured more than $4 million in grants, according to Dierker.
He said the city has had a balanced budget for the past 11 years.
“There’s a lot more expenditures we could be doing, but we’re being fiscally responsible in our spending,” Dierker said.
The city’s last five audits have been “nearly perfect,” according to Dierker. He added that the city’s insurance carrier also does an audit and the city has scored 100 percent on evaluations the past three years.
“Thank your city staff because they’re working hard,” Dierker said. “There’s a lot of credentials they have to meet and that helps keep cost down.”
The grants helped pay for road projects including Springfield Avenue, Main Street and most recently the Bardot Street project.
Last summer, the city hired West Contracting to widen Bardot Street and add sidewalks in the amount of $650,104. The city and St. Clair School District entered into a cost-sharing agreement to pay for the project. The city also received $400,000 in federal funds from East-West Gateway.
Dierker said this year, sidewalks will be added on Paul Parks Drive starting at city hall and extending through Farmers & Merchants Bank plaza location.
Besides road projects, he added that grants also have gone toward upgrades at city hall, energy loans, and the parks and police departments.
The city receives approximately 72 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation of personal property and real estate, according to Dierker, which amounts to $500,000 yearly.
He mentioned that places near Interstate 44 and Highway 47, have a 1 percent higher tax rate due to the transportation development district, which helps pay for the upgrades to the North Outer Road and the traffic lights.
“That was a 50/50 cost share (split) with the state of Missouri, and so the city had to pay a little over $2 million to get that done,” Dierker said.
Dierker explained why residents see a city tax on their phone and electric bills. He said the city charges companies such as Ameren and AT&T to use the city’s right-of-ways. That fee is passed on to customers, according to Dierker.
With a lack in attendees, this year’s Freedom Fest will be limited to only a fireworks display, Dierker said.
“It’s so hot in the middle of the summer that we don’t see a lot of people come out to that event until right at dark,” he said.
Dierker mentioned how the city is participating in the Kites of Franklin County art project, among the other joining organizations. There is one at the elementary school, the nursing center, Dana’s Shaved Ice, city hall and the Red Caboose.
He added that the parks department has a few upcoming events in the works such as a children’s car and bicycle show set for May.
At the Feb. 19 board meeting, the board of aldermen voted to deny event requests to hold racing events at the former site of the airport.
“The old airport is not set up to be a drag strip,” Dierker said. “It doesn’t have the necessary safety features and the other item of concern is the risk – the liability that the city is taking.”
In addition to safety and liability concerns, Dierker added that the city saw a $500 increase for the month of October when JJ’s Arm Drop took place compared to the year prior.
Dierker said he wants to spend the time focusing on developing the 80 acres of property.
Toward the end of his speech, Dierker talked about the demolitions of several houses that recently took place and last year’s water boil advisory.