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City may take over management of senior center

FARMINGTON — If all goes as planned the Farmington Senior Center could have a little something special in its Christmas stocking this year — the security and assurance that comes with having a city government have oversight on operations.

It’s likely that city council members will be given a piece of legislation as early as the December council meeting to consider taking over management of the senior center and Meals on Wheels programs beginning next year. The topic was discussed briefly during the council session Monday evening.

Councilman Stuart “Mit” Landrum explained that he and other council members and city officials met last week with representatives of the senior center including director Mona Yates. He said that meeting was seemingly very “positive” for all parties involved.

Under a preliminary proposal, it appears the city would take over oversight of the senior center operations while Yates would remain in her role as director and handle daily operations. The action would alleviate some of the continual struggle the center faces in keeping up the services it provides senior citizens of the community and outlying areas.

St. Francois County currently has four senior centers, all funded in part by county tax dollars. But the Farmington Senior Center is the only one of the four which has operated up to this point without the involvement of the community it serves.

At this point the county funds operations of the center to the amount of about $60,000 a year. The remainder of operating capital comes from donations collected for meals and an assortment of fundraising efforts throughout the year. Landrum said county Presiding Commissioner Jim Henson indicated the county intended to continue with its level of annual support for the center.

It’s likely, Landrum added, that the program could be operated with a positive cash flow. He indicated more specifics of the city’s involvement would be available in coming weeks. Farmington Civic Center Director Bill Towler has been helping Landrum put together a plan for the city to become involved with the senior center operations.

In other actions, a report was given on a new program being used to replace the unpopular “chip and seal” process to prolong the surface of city streets. Councilman Larry Forsythe, head of the Public Works Committee, told the council about the new process.

For years the city used the chip and seal process on city streets. While it worked to lengthen the usefulness of a street surface, the chips were notorious for being picked up by tires and flung at other vehicles, and the messy “oil” would sometimes also splatter onto vehicles and be difficult to remove.

“It worked in its day,” Forsythe said of chip and seal, but now the city is testing a new process. This one calls for cracks in streets to be thoroughly cleaned and filled with a heated “rubber emulsion.” The rubber is melted and poured into the cracks to form an expansive, rubberized weatherproofing.

The system is superior to simply pouring cold sealing tar into cracks. This method involves an improved product being forced down into cracks in the roadway surface. It’s hoped the life expectancy on the repairs could be up to five to eight years.

The process requires use of a specialized trailer-mounted machine. Rental of the machine costs about $7,000 per month. It would cost about $42,000 to purchase such a unit.

The city originally purchased $25,000 of the emulsion product to be put on city streets in coming weeks. City Administrator Greg Beavers said it’s hoped the crews doing the work can stay with it for several weeks. It’s likely several streets could be completed for an estimated total cost of about $60,000.

Forsythe said all indications were that the “crack filler” method was superior, and much more acceptable to motorists than the old chip and seal process.

Council members moved on through the evening’s agenda and eventually approved several bills regarding two retail developments. Bills were approved to move forward with creating Community Improvement District, or CID, taxing areas within the confines of the Gundaker Development at the corner of Maple Street and Maple Valley Drive, and a second area slated for development by R.L. Jones near the corner of Karsch Boulevard and Potosi Street — an area which currently houses Tractor Supply, Deals, Blockbuster Video and other businesses, and portions of property along the northwestern side of Potosi Street.

A CID allows a developer to collect an additional tax within the specified retail area with the profits to be used solely for improvements within that area.

Both Gundaker Development and Jones approached the city council earlier this year asking that CID areas be formed within their developments.

One final resolution voted on and approved by the council allowed for the city administrator to make an “interfund loan” from the electric department fund to the sewer fund. The relatively small amount of money will be borrowed from the electric department fund surplus and used to pay off some outstanding debt owed by the sewer department … which does not have enough reserves to comfortably retire the debt.

The move will save the city money by not having to pay the five percent interest currently being charged on the sewer department loan by the lender.

Near the end of the council session it was explained that filing for four council positions and the office of mayor will open soon and remain open until Jan. 20.

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