Meramec Regional Planning Commission
February 9, 2012
Call to Order
Chairman Russell Scheulen called the February 9 meeting of the Meramec Regional Planning Commission to order at 7:30 p.m.
The following consent agenda items were presented for approval:
a. Minutes— Jan. 12, 2012
• Laquey R-V School District
Permission was requested for MRPC’s chairman and/or executive director to enter into a contract to provide technical assistance in the preparation of a FEMA Storm Shelter Grant application for the Laquey R-V School District.
• Wilson Lumber Company (borrower has changed name to Perkins Lumber Co. of St. James.)
Permission was requested for MRPC’s chairman and/or executive director to enter into a contract to provide technical assistance in the preparation of an EDA Revolving Fund (RLF) application for the Perkins Lumber Company of St. James—formerly Wilson Lumber Company of St. James.
• Gasconade County Commission
Permission was requested for MRPC’s chairman and/or executive director to enter into a contract with the Gasconade County Commission to update the county’s comprehensive personnel policy manual.
• City of St. Robert/St. Robert Fire Department
Permission was requested for MRPC’s chairman and/or executive director to enter into a contract to provide technical assistance in the preparation of a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response) Grant application for the City of St. Robert/St. Robert Fire Department.
(Additions to consent agenda)
• MRPC/MRDC – Joint Resolution
Permission was requested for MRPC’s chairman and secretary to sign a joint resolution by and between the Meramec Regional Planning Commission and the Meramec Regional Development Corporation for the purpose of approving the annual RLF certification for the period ending March 31, 2012. This resolution will be submitted with MRPC’s semi-annual report to the Economic Development Administration, which is due on or before April 30, 2012.
• Goodwin Sink Cleanup in Laclede County
Board permission was requested for MRPC staff to apply for various grants—such as EPA, 319 Clean Water, DNR, Region T solid waste district grant, USDA etc.— to fund the cleanup of Goodwin Sink in Laclede County and if awarded, permission is requested for MRPC’s chairman and/or executive director to sign contracts to do the cleanup with partner agencies.
• MRDC Reappointment
Board approval was requested to reappoint Tom Klebba to another term as MRPC’s representative on the Meramec Regional Development Corporation (MRDC) board.
• Lease Agreements Between MRPC and MCEC (HS Equipment)
1) Permission was requested for MRPC’s chairman and/or executive director to enter into a lease agreement between Meramec Community Enhancement Corporation (MCEC) and Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s Region I Homeland Security Oversight Committee (MRPC/HSOC) for the lease of MCEC’s cargo trailer. MRPC/HSOC is need of a cargo trailer to house and transport training equipment and supplies associated with its CERT training efforts. This lease will replace the current MOU, based on actual expenses, and will be retroactive to July 1, 2011 and open until cancelled for a lump sum of $275.
2) Permission was requested for MRPC’s chairman and/or executive director to enter into a lease agreement between Meramec Community Enhancement Corporation (MCEC) and Meramec Regional Planning Commission’s Region I Homeland Security Oversight Committee (MRPC/HSOC) for the lease of MCEC’s cargo trailer. MRPC/HSOC is need of a cargo trailer to house and transport training equipment and supplies associated with its CERT training efforts. This lease will replace the MOU, based on actual expenses for the period July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011, for a lump sum of $204.
Mary Heywood made a motion to approve the consent agenda with the changes; seconded by Dennis Wilson. The motion carried.
Impact of EDA and CDBG Programs in the Meramec Region
Connie Willman and Kelly-Sink Blair gave a powerpoint presentation on the impact of the Economic Development Administration and the Community Development Block Grant Programs and the application process for both. Due to the nation’s budget negotiations, EDA is in jeopardy of elimination, and the Community Development Block Grant program has reduced funding dollars. Staff wanted to make the board aware of these situations.
Ms. Willman reported that the Economic Development Administration is a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and since the 1970s, the Meramec Region has received over $14 million in public works funding from EDA. She further reported that nearly every industrial park in the region has benefited from EDA funds, which includes sewer, water, roads and buildings among others. These parks are still in existence and provide jobs to the residents of the Meramec Region.
Ms. Willman also reported that MRPC was designated as an Economic Development District 1975, which made it eligible for economic development planning funds to be used to promote economic development across the region. Total planning funds received to date is approximately $2 million.
Ms. Willman stated that another tool to promote economic development in the Meramec Region is EDA’s Revolving Loan Fund program. MRPC has received a total of about $850,000 in RLF grant funds to make loans to small businesses across the region. The funding has resulted in nearly $3.2 million in loans to date to 55 small businesses in the region, which has created a total of 585 jobs and saved 237 jobs.
Kelly Sink-Blair reported on CDBG funding, which is provided to the State of Missouri through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She added that MRPC has had good success in competing against other regions in the state for award of grants.
Kelly provided graphics, which listed CDBG grants in the region, CDBG projects in the Meramec region from 1994-2011, the sources of funds and grants funded in the region during that period and the percentage of a pie chart for each category. As a result of CDBG projects, 92 jobs were created, which benefitted 105,656 individuals.
The CDBG 2012 program distribution includes—Water and Wastewater, Community Facility, Demolition, Emergency and Economic Development. Kelly provided application information and deadlines for each of the grant categories.
Kelly ended the presentation by stating that EDA and CDBG funding are the main grant programs for infrastructure in rural areas, and these programs are vital to the future success of the Meramec Region.
External Relations Committee
Russell Scheulen reported that the following board and staff members delivered MRPC’s State Priorities Report to the Capitol on Jan. 24. The group included Bonnie Prigge, Tammy Snodgrass, Kathleen Nahm, Jan Haviland, Gary Brown, Jim Grebing, T.R. Dudley, Marcus Maggard, Steve Vogt, Darrell Skiles, Ray Schwartze and himself. He further reported that they were able to make contact with all of the region’s 10 legislators. MRPC hosted a luncheon and invited the legislators and their staff to attend. Seven of the legislators attended and reports were left at the offices of the remaining three legislators. Russell stated he believed it was beneficial to personally meet the legislators and to discuss priorities with them.
Russell also reported that MRPC has four at-large positions up for re-election to three-year terms on MRPC’s board— Donald Dodd, transportation; Leo Dickey, farming; Laura Antolak, small business; and Jan Haviland who is filling out an unexpired term for industry. Donald Dodd and Laura Antolak have indicated that they plan to retire from MRPC’s board when their terms expire. Russell further reported that he has not been in contact with Leo Dickey, who has been in the hospital, and Jan Haviland regarding whether they are willing to serve for another three-year term. There will be two at-large positions to fill. The transportation representative also serves as MRPC’s liaison to the Transportation Advisory Committee. Russell thanked Don and Laura for the time they served on our board.
Russell reported that Teri Smith has begun MRPC’s 2012 associate membership drive. She provided copies of the brochure and encouraged board members to promote the program to businesses and organizations in their communities. The associate member’s name is listed in our annual report, and it has a link to our website. There are three levels of membership—silver, gold and platinum.
Minutes: Norm Herren made a motion to approve MRPC/MRDC-RLF and IRP program financial statements for the period ending Jan. 31, 2012; seconded by Dennis Wilson. The motion carried.
Personnel Policy Revisions:
1) Linda Loughridge presented a revision to MRPC’s lay-off and recall policy, which gives the executive director the option that such employee subject to layoff may receive a severance package equal to at least ten days of pay in lieu of notice. MRPC will continue to pay its portion of the employee’s benefit premiums during the notification/severance pay period.
Norm Herren made a motion to approve the personnel policy revision as stated; seconded by Leo Sanders. The motion carried.
2) Ms. Loughridge presented a proposed addition to employment policies regarding background checks for key management positions, IT, business loans, all fiscal positions and any other positions with exposure to company financials, cash or credit management, and banking.
Norm Herren made a motion to approve the addition to employment policies; seconded by T.R. Dudley. The motion carried.
MODES Shared Work Program
Linda Loughridge reported on the “Shared Work Program” offered by the Missouri Department of Employment Security. In order to meet budget obligations, the work hours for MRPC’s three secretaries were reduced to 32 hours per week. MRPC met the criteria to participate in the shared work program, which is an alternative to laying off employees. The secretaries will receive 20 percent (eight) hours of weekly benefits amount based on qualification and benefits formula.
James Morgan reported that Nongluk Tunyavanich gave a presentation on the impact of illegal dump program in the Ozark Rivers Region. He added that he was impressed that 723 tons of trash, 68 tons of metal and approximately 7,000 tires were collected. He commended MRPC for a job well done.
T.R. Dudley suggested that MRPC take a different approach with our state priorities. He added that he has gone to the Capitol two years in a row and MRPC’s top priority has been funding for Highways 50 and 63, which is not going to happen very soon. He believes something like unfunded mandates should be at the top or something that has a possibility of being funded. He also noted that a couple of legislators stated they would like to be involved in the priorities process so they can give their prospective on where we are legislatively so we can advocate better with them. T.R. also suggested that we present priorities from MACOG and other state organizations.
In response, Bonnie stated that we have tried to bring MAC and MML’s priorities into the mix. However, we would start the process before they started theirs. We typically look at their priorities from the past year. She added that we can try to get a more up-to-date discussion. One of the problems is that we start the process in September and we don’t meet in November. We bring our state legislators here in Dec. and the legislators start their session in January. She added that we can bring this recommendation before the External Relations Committee at a later date to discuss a solution.
Russ Scheulen added that he enjoys going to the Capital and he believes that that the main priority should be at the top in case funding becomes available.
Transportation Advisory Committee
Donald Dodd reported on TAC activities as follow:
• Travis Koestner, engineer from MoDOT’s Central District gave an update on the MoDOT Bolder Five-Year Plan.
• Preston Kramer reported that the 19 Safe and Sound Bridge projects, identified by the TAC, will be done a year ahead of schedule.
• Bonnie Prigge updated the TAC committee on the Kick-Off meeting for the Meramec Region Coalition for Roadway Safety Subcommittee and discussed the strategy for the next five months.
Tom Klebba reported on MRDC activities as follows:
• The MRDC will meet on Feb. 15 at noon to review one SBA and one RLF loan request.
• The SBA debenture rate is slightly decreasing with the January note rate of 2.8 for a 20-year term and 1.6 for a 10-year term issued for loans that closed in January 2012,
• The RLF has approximately $278,556 and the IRP fund has approximately $312,094 for relending. The Revolving Loan Fund Disaster Assistance has approximately $246,750 available for lending. MRDC’s Microloan Fund has $82,250 available for small businesses with five or fewer employees for startups or working capital financing needs.
T.R. Dudley reported that the two most improved counties that decreased unemployment rates were Washington—2.1 drop and Crawford—2.4 drop. However, Washington is still in double digits. Mr. Dudley also reported on unemployment rates in the region as compared to last year at the same time, and all counties had shown improvement. He further reported on the following business closures or downsizing since July, 2011.
—Heritage Park, Phelps – lost Medicaid/Medicare – closed.
—U.S. Foods, Dent – downsized – 6 workers
—Cimbar Performance Minerals – closed – 17 workers
—C-PAC, Fort Wood- three government contracts ended, which totaled 93 workers
—Penn Enterprises – Fort Wood – government contract ended – 53
—Dept. of Public Works – Fort Wood – government contract ended – 25 workers
—CFV Plastics Gasconade –closed – 15 workers
—L-3 Communications (Ft. Wood) – government contract ended – 3 workers
—Jahabow – Gasconade – Layoff – 15 workers
Laura Antolak reported that MRCF has grown over 100 percent over the past year and one half. It has 14 funds with a total of $670,000. Ozark Actors in Rolla is the newest endowment fund. The Community Partnership, Vichy Volunteer Fire and Owensville Community Foundation have set up funds. Ms. Antolak added that word is getting around about the foundation and that MRCF board members are willing to meet with anyone who wishes to set up a fund. MRCF will be awarding five $250 scholarships, and is now taking applications for award in March. Applications for the Richard and Jeanne Cavender Scholarship will be reviewed in April.
Ms. Antolak reported that she will be leaving the MRPC board to devote more time to the foundation.
Bonnie Prigge reported as follows:
Jefferson City Day at the Capitol: Bonnie Prigge thanked board members who went to Jefferson City on Jan. 24 to deliver MRPC’s state priorities report.
Transportation: Transportation reauthorization is moving both through the House and Senate and NADO seems to believe we will get a reauthorization bill passed. There are proposed changes in both bills. There won’t be funds set aside for enhancements and safe routes. Those programs would be rolled into STP program as NADO interprets the legislature. As it is written, BRO funds will be rolled into STP. The bill is about 850 – 900 pages. There is a lot of information in it. MRPC staff is monitoring that closely and are looking at maintaining a relationship with with local elected officials. The work on TAC would still be continued.
EDA: Staff sent out an e-mail on EDA comments on the rules. The deadline for comments has been extended to Feb. 15. Ms. Prigge stated that EDA’s e-mail and website have been down for about three weeks. A conference call on RLF reporting indicated that EDA hopes to have the website back up by September. The EDA comments website is still open. Ms. Prigge further stated that there have been about 60 comments. The ones MRPC discussed in January are there and have been submitted. MACOG also has similar comments that they posted. The site is not user friendly. MRPC wants to make sure we maintain the local elected official role in the CEDS.
Homeland Security Oversight Committee: Ms. Prigge reported that a HSOC will be hosting a grant workshop. When Homeland Security renegotiated MRPC’s work plan, they cut it in half so MRPC hosts two meetings. One of these meetings did not turn out to be hosting a workshop here, so they are doing a workshop in Jefferson City for everyone. We still don’t know how much money we are receiving. We will hear at that meeting for regional planning commissions. If you are not in Region I, the other regions will learn what they will receive. We are told to expect a 50 percent cut. They also may look at a minimal level of funding and a formula based on critical facilities concerns.
At issue, is the RPC work program ends Sept. 30 and includes grant procurement activities. However, these 2012 grants could go on for up to three years, leaving no dollars for staff time. If the funding is not renegotiated, we won’t have the funds to administer the grants. MACOG is taking the lead on this issue.
Survey Low Water Bridges:
Staff is surveying each of its cities and counties to determine the top three priority bridges and low-water-crossings that are vulnerable to flooding. As part of its disaster planning efforts, MRPC will work with each city and county to identify its most flood prone road structures and provide a comprehensive assessment of each bridge. These assessments can assist city councils and county commissions in prioritizing bridges/crossings for replacement, and can also be used in seeking grant funds to conduct replacement activities.
Russell Scheuleln reported that he has been to Jefferson City five or six times, and he believes it is important to go every year. With term limits, the legislators are frequently changing, and it is important to go in person to meet your legislators so they can place a face with a request.
Russell Scheulen introduced Travis Schwarz, a new dentist from Waynesville, to the board. Dr. Schwarz came as a guest of Laura Antolak.
Fort Leonard Wood
According to Forbes.com, Fort Leonard Wood is the third fastest growing city in the nation.
Mary Heywood made a motion to adjourn at 8:45 p.m.; seconded Tom Klebba. The motion carried.
Russell Scheulen, Chairman T.S. Dudley, Secretary