It may seem like summer is just getting started, but fall is closing in fast for members of the Maryville City Council, who spent two hours before their regular session this week setting budget priorities for the city's new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Starting with a wish list comprising nearly 40 projects, several of which are already underway, the five-member governing board began the wrenching process of aligning the city's needs with available revenues.
At least one and maybe two more such sessions will take place in the coming weeks as City Manager Greg McDanel and his staff work to match priorities with actual dollars before bringing a finished budget back to the council for final approval.
Next year's spending plan is expected to total around $30 million, down two or three million from the current year due to the projected completion of two major street reconstructions.
Councilman Glenn Jonagan sounded the session's dominant theme by voicing his commitment to streets, sewers and other nuts-and-bolts projects.
"Anything that supports infrastructure is going to be a priority in my book," said Jonagan, adding that transportation, especially, was "very, very high on my list."
Councilman Jeff Funston concurred, saying that Maryville needs to spend "substantially more money," probably between $300,000 and $400,000, on asphalt overlays for pothole-riddled streets.
The current year's overlay budget is only about $100,000 and addresses a single thoroughfare, South Walnut. But City Manager Greg McDanel said that was because funds were needed for the two reconstructions: South Depot and South Munn.
Funston also said the city needs to keep plugging away at repairing leaks in the city's wastewater system, which currently allows a significant amount of storm drainage to flow into sanitary sewers.
Reducing the amount of "inflow and infiltration," Funston said, is especially important between now and the time Maryville completes a new $14 million wastewater treatment plant scheduled to go online by July 2015.
Other priorities mentioned by the council included drainage improvements along the north end of Peach Creek, a tornado storm shelter at Mozingo Lake, continued demolition of abandoned and derelict homes and the Fourth Street streetscape project.
Council members also spent time talking about improving traffic flow and pedestrian access along South Main Street, a major goal set forth in a comprehensive growth and development plan adopted by the city last year.
Addressing transportation issues on the south end, including possible construction of a new east-west thoroughfare, is a huge job that will take years, even decades, to complete. But Jonagan said the current council should at least make a start.
"Now is the time to commit that we're going to do something out there," he said.
McDanel estimated the cost of significantly overhauling South Main at more than $7 million, but suggested that the council might begin by undertaking a traffic corridor study that would probably cost around $40,000.
Page 2 of 2 - As for other budget issues, nothing is set in stone yet, but the fledgling process may have already produced a couple of casualties, including a proposed new Maryville Public Safety headquarters that would house the city's police and fire protection operations.
The council budgeted $40,000 during the current year for a "needs analysis" regarding a new facility, but members indicated Monday construction may have to wait.
Another priority that may slip down the list is the effort to find a private developer interested in building a hotel and meeting center at Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.
Earlier this spring the city sent a request-for-qualifications to potential development firms, none of which submitted a proposal, citing Maryville's small size, Mozingo's distance from a major highway, the need for local investment and other concerns.
Lee Langerock, executive director of Nodaway County Economic Development, told the council that a lodge at Mozingo could require a bigger commitment on the part of the City Hall.
"It's going to take some kind of public/private partnership or community involvement to get it done," Langerock said.
Councilwoman Renee Riedel said the best hope for a lodge at Mozingo may be for the city to bide its time.
"Let's keep working to make Mozingo better than it is, and then somebody will come to us," she said.