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City budget, utility rate increases to be subject of public hearing Dec. 18

At its regular meeting on Nov. 6, the Jackson Mayor and Board of Aldermen set a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, at Jackson City Hall, to discuss the proposed 2018 City of Jackson Annual Budget.

The budget includes proposed sewer utility rate increases and other utility service rate increases. The proposed rate increase is 2.1 percent, which is the increase in the consumer price index as issued by the Missouri State Tax Commission.

In other action:

• Community Outreach Board: The Board of Aldermen appointed J. Alex Simmons to the Community Outreach Board, filling an unexpired term.

• City Park rest room project: The Board approved the payment of $12,400 to Koehler Engineering & Land Surveying, Inc., of Cape Girardeau, for engineering services under the City Park rest room building project.

• Pedestrian bridge replacement: The Board agreed to pay Brockmiller Construction, Inc., of Farmington $68,194.62 to replace the City Park pedestrian bridge over Hubble Creek.

The City received seven bids ranging from Brockmil-ler’s low bid up to $234,000.

Work will start right after the first of the year, so it will not interfere with Christmas lighting. According to Shane Anderson, director of Parks and Recreation, the lights and decorations are taken down the first or second week of January.

Work will be completed no later than the end of March.

• Depository: The Board authorized Mayor Dwain Hahs to sign a depository agreement to deposit City funds with Southern Bank.

• East Main Street/Oak Hill intersection: Koehler Engineering & Land Surveying, Inc. will be paid $37,950 for providing engineering services for the traffic signal project at East Main Street and Oak Hill Road.

• East Main Street/Shaw-nee intersection: The Board agreed to pay Smith & Company Engineers, Inc. of Poplar Bluff $9,500 to provide engineering services regarding the traffic control alternative project at East Main Street and Shawnee Boulevard. The City is considering the possibility of putting a roundabout at this location.

• West Main Street diamond grinding: The Board rejected all bids for diamond grinding West Main Street to make the surface smoother. The city did not think it was worth the cost to get only a 20 percent improvement.

In study session, the Council discussed the possibility of replacing the concrete in the driving lanes between Court Street and Union Street. Most complaints come from people driving on the uphill lanes, which seem to be bumpier than the downhill lanes. Estimates for replacing concrete depend upon how much is replaced and range from $182,000 to $0.5 million.

It was suggested that the Board of Aldermen listen to next month’s budget presentation and then decide to rank street projects. Generally, concrete streets last about 35 years and this section of concrete is reaching the end of its life. But, as Alderman Larry Cunningham said, as much as he’d like to see the bumpiness of West Main Street corrected, there are a lot of streets that need repair more than Main Street.

• Joint routing and sealing: The Board approved a change order for $13,128.96 to Parking Lot Maintenance of Lake Saint Louis regarding the 2017 joint routing and sealing program. The original bid had been under budget, so additional work is being requested at this additional cost.

• Break in Main Street concrete median: The Board approved a memorandum of understanding with Abbots-ford Land Management L.P., allowing the company to make a break in the concrete Median on East Main Street just west of I-55 to allow complete access to undeveloped property on the north side of Main Street, Making complete access available will aid in the development of the property.

• Sales tax increase: During study session, Callie Miller from Bold Marketing discussed strategies to help the City pass a 1/2-cent sales tax increase next April. The sales tax will help pay for a new police station.

According to Miller, JPD is currently understaffed. There are 11 commissioned patrolmen but a city the size of Jackson should have about 15. However, there is no space in the current facility to put additional patrolmen. The current police & fire station lacks space for current and future employees. The fire department has no room for women firefighters if any should be hired.

“We need to educate the public on how a 1/2-cent sales tax would alleviate the problem,” Miller said.

This will be done with a public awareness campaign using public presentations, social media, e-mail blasts, video, bill stuffers and traditional media.

The Board is expected to approve an agreement with Bold Marketing at its next meeting. That will give Bold Marketing three months to educate the public before the election in April.

• Amendments to Chapter 55, Code of Ordinances: During study session, the Board considered changes to Chapter 55 of the Code of Ordinances. These will affect traffic control devices, excavation permits and backfill standards.

• City employee insurance: Because city employees had so many insurance claims this past year, it has been challenging to renew insurance for employees, said Jeff Bierman of Swinford & Associates during study session.

“We had a bad claim year,” he said. “We had more claims in nine months of this year than in all of last year.”

To keep costs down, the City is offering more alternatives. There were 12 possible choices for coverage last year and there will be 16 this year. On some of the choices, employees will have to pay more for their spouses or family members. Employees can still continue to receive full coverage from the City at no cost to them, depending upon the plan they choose.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at

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