TIF, mask mandate highlight Boonville City Council meeting

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

Plans for tax-increment financing for the Thurman Housing Development Project took its first steps Monday at the Boonville City Council meeting. 

The council got an update from the city's TIF consultant, Tony St. Romaine about the project at the Highway 87 corridor at Pearre Lane.

Establishing a TIF takes a lot of steps, he said. The council has to prepare a TIF application and then establish a TIF Commission of 11 members, where six are appointed by the council per state statutes.

“I know there’s some thought already going into who might be members of that TIF Commission,” Romaine said. “The other five are basically specified by statute, so you have two members appointed by the school district, two members appointed by the county, and then you have one assigned to all the other taxing jurisdictions.”

Mayor Ned Beach wanted to confirm that commission members cannot include city council members, which Romaine confirmed. 

TIF Commissions can work with local governments in creating redevelopment plans and project parameters, according to the Missouri De

Council member Albert Turner wanted to know the timeline for the TIF process.

The city already has taken the first step toward the TIF. The next step is the preliminary funding agreement, which the city has. Legal counsel also is needed. The city is considering hiring Gilmore and Bell, which has experience with TIF projects, Romain said. The city can work with them on many projects. 

Once a TIF Commission comes together, city staff will start working their way through all these various steps. A TIF application will cost around $10,000.

“My experience has been by the time the city gets through this entire two page process, it’ll be somewhere around $30,000, so that $10,000 will be to help pay the fees for consultants that you will have,” Romaine said. “And when someone’s first $10,000 runs up, they have to continue to provide funds to basically pay all those fees.”

The first planned commission meeting is March 17, where officers will be elected and their roles will be reviewed. The commission likely will hold four meetings. 

Romaine plans to provide more information on TIF policies and procedures, project goals, economic benefits at a future date. Those are items that will be written into policy, he said. 

The city has not yet adopted ordinances to allow a TIF project in the city yet. There still is a lot of work to do, City Administrator Kate Fjell said. 

The city has to adopt an ordinance authorizing the commission, create the TIF application, adopt the TIF policy and procedures. A resolution is tentatively planned Dec. 21. 

Citywide mask mandate discussed

The council recognized the COVID-19 pandemic likely will get worse before, despite there now being a vaccine. 

“I just think it would be a good idea if we give some considerable thought of mandating mask (usage),” Turner said. “That’s what I would be in favor of.”

Those who are worried about the virus or are at risk, such as the elderly should stay home to limit contacts, council member Whitney Venable said. 

“I don’t think we need to impose a mass mandate on the rest of society based on a few others,” Venable said. “Like I said, if you don’t interact with other human beings, there’s no way you can get the virus. That’s your choice. That’s the freedoms we have here in America.”

As of Dec. 2, there were 80 active cases of COVID-19 in Cooper County. The total number of those affected, which includes offenders at the Boonville Correctional Center, is 1,298. This means about 7% of Cooper County's population were affected by COVID-19 since the pandemic started. 

Council member Michael Stock wanted to know how would the mandate be enforced. Should the conversation start at the health department. 

The health department has been asking for a mandate for quite some time, Beach said. 

There are a couple of different approaches that could be taken, he added, noting he is not in favor of an ordinance. 

“I wear a mask to work,” Beach said. “I’m very respectful. Whatever somebody wants me to do. I think I was one of the few that when people were required to wear a mask I was wearing a mask."

Beach also was unsure how to enforce a mandate. 

"An ordinance is pretty dictatorial. It's basically a law," Beach said. "A resolution is a kiss on the lips. It says, 'I love you. I want you to live longer, so wear a mask.'"

A resolution would not have a enforcement aspect when compared to an ordinance. 

"Neither one of these can be done tonight, but I want you to think about it,” Beach said. 

In other business

The council held a second reading and approval of an ordinance relating to the city attorney pay rate. The compensation rate is $40,000, with a bi-annual compensation review tied to the election cycle. 

Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce Director Karen Esser asked the city to consider parking restrictions in front of the Ricmar building on Main Street, so children can visit with Santa on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons.

The council considered authorizing an agreement with Gilmore and Bell and a preliminary funding agreement with Troy Thurman Construction Co. Inc.

The council approved a resolution with Cooper County for the distribution of coronavirus relief bill funds. 

Fjell briefed the council on the bridge replacement on I-70. The city agreed to pay $100,000 in fiscal year 2021. Once the calendar year ends, city budget planning will begin. 

Council member Curtis Robertson brought up concerns related to the the flashing stop lights on Main Street after 10 p.m. Residents have told him they flashing lights have nearly caused accidents.