SIKESTON - This year will serve as a "test run" for many of the changes to city government mandated by the Home Rule Charter.
City Manager Doug Friend said city staff will incorporate changes made to the budget process in the Home Rule Charter this year to help them "get in the habit" of meeting its deadlines even though they are not bound to do so by law until next year.
Friend updated the council on the Fiscal Year 2003 Budget preparation during Monday's regular Sikeston City Council meeting.
A budget summary will be provided to council members late this week or early next week, Friend said.
A budget review will be placed on the agenda for the next council work session and a public hearing is scheduled for June's regular city council session.
A document outlining the timeline for changes in the city's government was also delivered to council members for review.
Mayor Phil Boyer noted the charter also mandates a change to the way bills are read and passed.
In the past, bills have been read the first time during the council work session usually scheduled for the Thursday before the regular session Monday.
To comply with the charter, the work session meetings with first readings will need to take place on the Monday before the regular session to allow for a full seven days between readings.
Bills will not go into effect immediately unless they are an emergency measure but will go into effect 30 days after they are passed.
"So there's going to be an education process," said Friend. He advised as changes go into effect, the city should use newspapers and other media outlets to "get a lot of P.R. out."
Friend said blank city maps will be provided to council members Sue Rogers, Michael Harris and Boyer for them to mark as they try out different boundaries for the city's four wards.
In other city business covered during Monday's session:
* The Council renewed the city's liability insurance for $198,336 with St. Paul and The Hartford through Brooke Insurance Agency as recommended by staff.
The premiums are 47 percent higher for fiscal year 2003 than this year, according to Karen Bailey, deputy city clerk and treasurer.
Bailey said 22 percent of the increase is attributed to the Sept. 11 losses sustained by insurance companies as well as the bearish stock market. "A lot of reinsurers got hit significantly hard," Bailey said.
Earthquake coverage was also much higher and more difficult to get this year, she added.
The rest of the increase is due to additional property and equipment such as the T.E. Bryant Fire Facility, the community building at the complex, and $1 million of E-911 equipment that the city did not have last year.
Bailey noted premiums were higher in 1987 and that the city will go back out for bids for fiscal year 2004 as this is the final year of a three-year contract.
* Council members renewed the municipal pool lease agreement with YMCA for this summer.
According to city officials, the city has contracted with the YMCA for the management of the Jaycee Municipal Swimming Pool for the past two years.
The agreement contains a clause permitting the YMCA to request the contract be continued in successive years and the YMCA has expressed an interest in doing so this summer.
The lease agreement increases the fee paid to the YMCA $1,000 from last year to $19,000.
Friend explained the YMCA had no history to predict the cost of running the pool in previous years and that the increase was justified.
* The Council approved the rezoning request from James Hux for Clearview Estates 9th Addition from agriculture open space to R-1 single family residential and approved the 27-acre subdivision.
Tom Bridger, public works director, said the subdivision addition, which is a continuation of the adjacent development, features lots that are about 2,000 square feet larger and raises the minimum cost for structures to be built there.
The city's planning and zoning commission reviewed both the rezoning and subdivision requests and passed favorable recommendations, according to Bridger.
* A rezoning request from George Simmons for a portion of land abutting the Indian Hills subdivision in the southwest quadrant of Sikeston was approved by council members changing its designation from agriculture open space to R-4 two family-duplex.
Bridger said the request for R-4 zoning was made on the recommendation of the planning and zoning commission.
Councilman Mike Marshall asked Simmons if he had any plans to put a public housing project there.
"No sir, with an avid, 'No sir,'" Simmons replied. "It has never even been thought about."
Simmons said the duplexes will all be privately owned and that he would never be involved with any public housing.
* Copies of the city's amended comprehensive plan were presented to the council for review following edits by city staff.
Bridger said planning and zoning "basically dissected the entire comprehensive plan" as it contained numerous errors.
Bridger said staff will contact the company that developed the comprehensive plan to see if they will provide an updated map that matches the plan's text.
Council members will wait on an updated map before approving the plan as advised by Friend.