Last updated: August 27. 2013 10:44PM - 69 Views

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The 2013 budget and lingering transportation issues will be the first orders of business just days after two new members were sworn in on the Pettis County Commission.

Presiding Commissioner John Meehan told the Democrat on Wednesday afternoon that he met with eastern commissioner Brent Hampy and western commissioner Jim Marcum earlier in the day to “talk over some preliminary issues and let them get their feet wet.”

Meehan called the meeting productive and said both men are eager to begin work.

“They are both committed to doing the best possible job taking care of Pettis County citizens,” Meehan said.

Among the issues at the top of their to-do list is finalizing the county’s 2013 budget. Both Hampy and Marcum sat in on budget hearings held in December, though the draft budget was crafted under former district commissioners Larry Wilson and Rod Lindemann.

“I had a consensus from Rod and Larry of how we were going to approach the budget for 2013,” Meehan said. “I expect myself and the new co-commissioners will be able to reach a similar consensus.”

As it stands, Meehan describes this year’s budget as “flat,” allowing for minor tweaks to some budget lines, such as food and fuel allotments for the sheriff’s office, but without significant new expenditures. Meehan said the general revenue budget now stands at about $6.5 million, and about $7.2 million for the county’s Road and Bridge Department budget.

“Sales tax revenues remained lower through the end of this year, so that has had an impact on the challenges and enhancements we will be able to make,” Meehan said.

Commissioners will likely meet with other county officials next week to discuss the draft spending plan. After that, the budget must be available for 10 days for public viewing and the commission must give five days’ notice for a public hearing to follow.

Meehan said he expects final approval for the 2013 budget during the third week of January.

The commission also is awaiting final Missouri Department of Transportation approval of construction bids to replace Quisenberry Road bridge, which MoDOT ordered closed in February due to safety concerns.

Meehan said the new bridge, if approved, would feature two lanes and would have less of an angle of approach than the current structure. He expects the total cost of replacement to be about $300,000.

However, the project has qualified for Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation, or BRO, funds, which are federal dollars administered by the state. The federal government would pay for 80 percent of a BRO-qualified bridge, with the county picking up the remaining 20 percent.

Meehan credited Wilson and Lindemann with helping push through paperwork to get the project covered by matching funds, and expects construction to begin, weather permitting, before spring. He also credited landowners whose properly lies adjacent to the bridge for their “cooperative attitude” regarding easements needed for the project.

Construction on the bridge should take between 60 and 90 days, Meehan said, though the county may opt to do work on Quisenberry Road south of the bridge. The road has been a popular route for area residents as well as families and others looking to access Clover Dell Park.

“I believe all of that should be wrapped up by the end of summer at the very latest,” Meehan said.

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