By MIKE MCCOY
Statesman Staff Writer
BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- The Stoddard County Commission signed an agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) at their regular meeting Monday to proceed with replacing a bridge on County Road 784 located in LaValle Special Road District. The next step will be to solicit requests for proposals (RFPs) from engineering firms to design the new bridge.
The estimated cost to replace the bridge is $200,000. The new bridge will be around 40 feet in length. Funds for the project will come from the Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program (BRO). The county has around $1.5 million in BRO funds.
Commissioner Frank Sifford asked if the RFPs for engineering work would have to be advertised. Presiding Commissioner Greg Mathis said he understood it would be advertised on the MoDOT web site and that would suffice. The commission approved replacing the bridge at their Nov. 19 meeting.
The commission reviewed an inspection of the Justice Center HVAC system by Langford Mechanical and Sheet Metal, Inc. of Jackson. The inspection showed that all equipment was "operating to design specifications." The company replaced belts on exhaust fans, cleaned the outdoor intake louvers, and otherwise found no service issues.
Airborne and surface mold was found in the Justice Center last year due to high humidity levels in the building. Several contractors, including Langford, were involved in the eradication and clean-up of the building. The county spent approximately $300,000 on cleanup and equipment.
Building Superintendent William Dowdy said humidity levels were good in the building.
"We couldn't ask for better," said Dowdy.
Testing revealed that humidity was at 39.6 percent in the lower lobby, 38.7 percent in the upper lobby, 41.2 percent in the basement and 38.4 percent in the main lobby with an outside humidity level of 68.2 percent.
"You don't want the humidity level below 30 percent," said Sifford.
"Are there any issues with the Juvenile Center?" asked Mathis.
Dowdy responded that the humidity testing was good in that area. He did say that sometimes the boiler had to be reset to operate correctly, but it was not a big issue.
Commissioner Carol Jarrell asked about the hole in the Juvenile Center ceiling due to leaks.
Dowdy said there were still some water leaks, but they were "not nearly as bad as it was." He said the inside had been sealed and they were still monitoring the situation. Jarrell asked about the "hidden room" that was found during repairs. She said she remembered there was some work that needed finishing there.
Dowdy said the room could act as a flue, providing air in the event of a fire. He said one proposal was to install fireproof flooring, while the other proposal would have put a fireproof and air-tight door to the outer room. He said the issue had not come up again after it was discussed.
Dowdy said plans to install a transfer switch for the generator at the Justice Center had been postponed last Saturday due to the forecast for rain. He said a transformer has to be opened and it was unwise to do the work in rainy weather.
"No humidity needs to get into the transformer," said Dowdy.
Dowdy said the forecasters were again calling for rain on Saturday, and asked about the possibility of doing the work on Friday. He said installation of the switch would take one to three hours, and the generator could be used during that time. Power would be off to the building temporarily to make the switch to generator power. The new switch would make the transition without loss of power. It was found that Friday was not a good time due to some court proceedings, so the installation was to take place Saturday.
Mathis asked what was going on with the City of Bloomfield water and sewer rates. He said the amount billed to the county on the last billing was over $200 more than usual.
Sifford said it was his understanding that the city had done away with the cap on sewer usage. He said sewer bills are based on water usage. Mathis asked that the issue be looked into and more information be provided about what caused the dramatic increase.
Mathis said the commission had been informed that an environmental impact study had been completed by Smith and Company for a proposed upgrade and expansion to the water service in Water District #4. Voters there passed $2.6 million in bonds to help pay for the project. The district applied for grants and low-interest loans through USDA Rural Development. The project calls for the old water storage tank to be replaced and relocated. The size of the tower has been estimated at 150,000-gallon capacity. The new tower will allow the district to serve the Misty Acres sub-division, which is part of the expansion.
District #4 currently provides water to 497 customers in an area between Dexter and Bloomfield. Those customers are on both sides of Highway 25 and south to the railroad tracks at Dexter. The bond proposal passed by voters allows for an expansion which will pick up customers on County Road 413 to Highway J, and along County Road 517 from the Union Pacific offices all the way to Misty Acres. District #4 buys their water from Public Water Supply District #1.
Completion of the environmental study is a step toward beginning construction.
Sifford told the commission that he would like to see a use tax put on the April 2 ballot. He said the new commission would have to act before the Jan. 22, 2013 deadline to get it on the ballot. He said it would not be a new tax, but rather would replace the county sales tax on new vehicles bought out-of-state and on used vehicles. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the collection of local sales tax on these items was unconstitutional. Sifford said the December sales tax report would give a better idea of what impact the loss of the revenue had on the county. He noted that sales tax revenue was down $58,000 last month and had been down the two months prior to that. He said the new commission would be faced with added expenses for health insurance, property and liability insurance, a new full-time prosecutor and possibly helping pay for 911 services.
"A lot of other counties are putting a use tax on the ballot," said Mathis. He added that he has talked with merchants, the Chamber of Commerce and cities within the county about the issue.
The Stoddard County Extension Board presented the commission with a proposed budget. The budget no longer includes an agronomist or full-time home and youth economist, but the cost of providing these service using personnel out of the county has increased. The board also hopes to employ a youth professional assistant to work with 4-H Clubs in the county.
"I think you have done a great job with your budget in the past," said Jarrell.
The commission will address budget issues later this month.