MARYVILLE, Mo. — The city of Maryville continues to refine its plan to spend $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds, running a $1.6 million draft outline by the City Council on Monday.
Funding from the Rescue Plan, passed by Congress in March, included the first federal relief provided directly to municipalities. Broadly, funds can be spent on projects tied to pandemic relief or preparedness efforts.
At Monday’s regular City Council meeting, members reviewed the first draft of a plan that allocated all but about $700,000 of that funding. The most significant investments would be in programs already discussed by the council, like premium pay for police officers, an overhaul of stormwater drainage systems at Lisa Lane and Robertson-Crist Park, and half a million dollars for a water treatment pilot plant.
Also included were proposals for improvements to the Thomson Splash ‘n’ Play and the Downtown Pocket Park, the addition of a dog park, and money for façade improvements to downtown properties.
Allocated funds - $1.6 million
Water treatment pilot plant - $500,000
Before building a new water treatment facility, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources requires a pilot plant first, which is used to test out different treatment methods — like using ozone, granular activated carbon and others — and fine tune them to determine the most effective strategies for use in a new, full facility.
The pilot plant, which would likely operate for about nine months, would cost between $750,000-$1 million, the city estimates.
In addition to the Rescue Plan funds that have been tentatively allocated, the FY 2022 budget approved at the end of September includes another $500,000 that would cover the full cost if necessary. However, city officials are in continued talks with Public Water Supply District No. 1 about cost-sharing models in the event the city moves ahead with a new water treatment plant, including the possibility of splitting part of the cost of the pilot plant.
Police pay, equipment - $427,000
Also included in the city’s budget starting this year was a raise for police officers to bring them more in line with pay scales across the state. The pay raise lifts the starting pay for a Maryville police officer from $17.91 per hour — about three dollars lower than the state median of $20.98 — to $20.54 per hour.
The increase was a top priority for city officials, designed to address the difficulty of finding qualified officers — a challenge shared by police departments nationwide.
Over the next three years, the pay increases, totaling about $332,000, will be paid for through Rescue Plan funds, along with $60,000 for recruitment incentives that city officials hope will result in more certified officer candidates applying rather than the city essentially paying new officers to get certified before starting on the job.
The draft spending plan also calls for $35,000 to replace mobile data terminals in police vehicles.
Park improvements - $345,000
Under its broadest provisions, outdoor improvements like park maintenance due to increased use during the pandemic are eligible for Rescue Plan expenditures. And, in areas like Maryville where household income is low, federal guidance allows even greater latitude on outdoor funding uses in order to help address health disparities and build stronger neighborhoods in low-income communities.
The spending in the draft reviewed by council on Monday would see about $230,000 of improvements at the Thomson Splash ‘n’ Play, which was one of the top priorities the Maryville Parks and Recreation board asked the council to consider. The improvements would likely include on-site restrooms and shade structures, the major enhancements suggested by the parks board.
Last year, the city applied for a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant that included some site improvements, but City Manager Greg McDanel said Monday that he has not heard back from the agency even though it’s well past the expected award date in June.
In addition to the splash pad, $75,000 in Rescue Plan funds were also earmarked to convert part of Sunrise Park, across from the New Nodaway Humane Society, to a dog park. In a survey of residents that was part of the MPR master plan completed last year, the No. 1 new feature requested by respondents was a dog park.
The Downtown Pocket Park is also listed to receive $60,000 for improvements, including the completion of a planned wall mural.
Stormwater drainage - $140,000
The plan includes $100,000 for stormwater drainage improvements to an area on Lisa Lane near Robertson-Crist Park that suffers from flooding issues during heavy rains, and $40,000 for a preliminary engineering report to start the process of addressing chronic stormwater drainage problems on Walnut Street.
Municipal court transfer - $110,000
Last month, the city announced its intention to move municipal court operations to the circuit court, as allowed by state law. These funds would go toward costs associated with that move, including scanning records and salary costs.
Downtown façade grants - $100,000
In 2019, the city adopted unified downtown design guidelines to help standardize the look and feel of properties downtown. This program would incentivize property owners to align their properties with those guidelines.
City staff presented the council with possible priorities for the remaining funds, which total a little more than $700,000 that included:
- Grants to local nonprofits and small businesses, including through a program proposed by Nodaway County Economic Development through the county
- Premium pay for essential workers, specifically for other municipal employees or those of nonprofits
- Radio replacements for police and fire personnel, though McDanel said that item would need further review to ensure it meets federal guidelines for Rescue Plan spending
- Miscellaneous drainage improvements
- City website upgrades, like making more paperwork and processes available to residents online
- Housing repair grants to low-income residents
- Diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to provide more opportunities and services to underrepresented communities
Council members briefly discussed those items, but will review the recommendations and discuss further at the next meeting on Oct. 25.