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Council faces vacancies, park tax shift next week

Council faces vacancies, park tax shift next week

Considers multipurpose building funds for MSP cleanup

November 15th, 2013 in News

While much of Monday night's Jefferson City Council meeting will be devoted to the discussion of a conference center, many other topics will be discussed.

Interim City Administrator Drew Hilpert will talk about a possible plan to fill the public works director position. The public works director position has been vacant since April, when former director Roger Schwartze resigned.

City Engineer Matt Morasch has been performing the job in the interim. But because he lives outside city limits, he could not be considered for the full-time position without some type of exception or code change.

In May, the council approved a bill expanding residency requirements for certain department directors to a 15-mile radius around Jefferson City. But that expansion did not apply to the public works director, city administrator, city clerk, fire chief or police chief.

Last month, Hilpert discussed the position with the council's Committee on Administration, saying the city has three good candidates: Britt Smith, operations division director; David Bange, engineering supervisor; and Morasch.

He said hiring from within would allow the city to eliminate the city engineer position and reshuffle the department to make up for the loss.

At Thursday's Brown Bagel pre-council meeting, Hilpert said his intention would be to announce an internal search for the director position.

In October, he hoped the council would entertain an exemption from the residency requirement or a change to the city's radius requirement and what positions are eligible for it.

Council members at that time noted by combining the city engineer and director position, either engineering or supervising of the department would suffer and Hilpert agreed. But, Hilpert said, the council could vote to reinstate the city engineer position in a future year, once finances improve.

Other business at Monday's council meeting includes a resolution to authorize the hiring of two police officers from vacancy savings.

Hilpert said the police department has struggled with vacancy savings over the last few years. Because of the long process, up to six months, each time the police are told to hold or wait on hiring they fall farther behind on keeping up with needed personnel. He said pressure has been greatly increased due to the unprecedented combination of medical leave, military leave and retirements. This resolution would call for up to $52,000 from vacancy savings to pay for a half-year of salaries for the two officers.

"We've been using a lot of overtime, and officers and their families are burnt. So hopefully this will be the start of a solution," Hilpert said.

Police Chief Roger Schroeder said they are currently down 14 positions. They have hired five new officers, but to get them through training will mean they won't be out on the streets until next year.

Another resolution for Monday night's meeting calls for restructuring of the city's half-cent sales tax that would take $1 million that had been designated for a Parks and Recreation Multipurpose Building.

The city recently entered into a contract with the state for a joint partnership in an effort to restore the Missouri State Penitentiary's site by cleaning up mold and by doing this they can resume tours.

As part of that agreement, the city will need to repay its share of the restoration costs in fiscal year 2014.

The Parks and Recreation Commission supports the restructuring of funding to accommodate the cleanup. The resolution states that voters and the parks commission should be "assured funds for the multipurpose building will be available by 2015, and it remains a top priority of the city council."

Also Monday night, a bill will be introduced to authorize a contract for $47,984 with Butler and Associates for consulting services related to the West Edgewood corridor traffic study project.

The city continues to be engaged in the development plans for the reconstruction of Frog Hollow Road. As those plans reached the right-of-way acquisition phase, concerns were raised, and staff was directed to explore and re-examine possible alternatives.

This review led to the routing of Frog Hollow to align with Creek Trail Drive and its disconnection at the existing one-lane bridge.

This was done with the understanding that a detailed traffic study would be undertaken to determine the effects of this change and to recommend the appropriate improvements to West Edgewood Drive.

Approval of this contract would authorize that traffic study.

The cost of the project is shared by half-cent sales tax money from Cole County and the city.