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by Mark Cheffey
The city of Palmyra’s efforts to establish a Community Improvement District for the downtown business area, are on hold, at least for now, following council action during its regular meeting last Thursday.
By a 5-1 vote, the council decided to put on hold any more work on the CID due to a lack of support for it.
However the motion voted on also included the provision of revisiting the issue, if there is renewed support in the future.
The issue was raises by Mayor Rusty Adrian, who asked council members if they felt there was any recent progress toward establishing the CID, which would be a special taxing district with revenue used to help downtown businesses improve their store fronts.
“What does the council think? Have we talked to people?” Adrian asked noting the CID falls short of the necessary number of supporters needed.
While council members expressed continued support for the CID concept, some admitted effort to establish one is faltering.
“I personally think we’ve exhausted all efforts,” said council member Pam Behring. “We’ve done our due diligence, and we’re not getting the support we’re needing.”
Council member Patrick Barnes said he is supportive of efforts to help improve the downtown business area, but admitted there was no progress in even getting close to the needed number of committed supporters.
“Unfortunately there is a large gap,” he said. “But it’s definitely a good thing, something I’ve seen work in other places.”
Council member Brock Fahy, the only one to vote against the motion, continued to voice his support for a CID, admitted the effort is struggling, but also expressed a commitment to not give up yet.
“We need to look at the positives of it, and I don’t want the community to look at it in a negative way,” he said.
“(Supporters) are not beating our doors down,” Adrian said. “We have to realize we have not made any progress,”
Maria Kuhns, director of the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Authority, which has assisted the city with its CID effort, said it can be stopped and resumed at a later date, with a lot of the paperwork and progress still of use.
“It would just need to be updated,” she said.
At the request of Fahy, the council had a lengthy discussion about updating the city employee hiring process and asked consideration of allowing more council involvement in the hiring.
Fahy said he would like to have at least one Personnel Committee member sit in on candidate interviews, and received support from other council members for the idea.
“I think we should have more involvement,” said council member Ellen Goodwin.
“The point is to get everybody involved,” said Adrian in support of having council presence at interviews.
However, the idea met with resistance from Police Chief Eddie Bogue, who said having to make sure a council member can attend an interview could slow down the hiring process and speed is often needed to be able to land successful candidates.
He also expressed concern about inappropriate questions being asked.
“I experimented with having a council member sit in on interviews and it was a disaster,” he said.
Adrian said there should not be any fear of slowing down the process and asked department heads to let council members know of interviews to allow them the opportunity to sit in.
“The more we have involved in this, the better off we are,” he said.
Fahy, who chairs the Personnel Committee, asked for more council input with hopes of coming to a consensus on how to revise the city’s hiring policy.
Street Commissioner Austen Dornberger said the Main Cross/Bradley Street bridge project is getting close to being completed.
“It’s looking good,” said Adrian, who said he visited the site recently.
Two new police officers, Caitlin Crane and Dylan Ferrara, were sworn in as new police officers by Adrian.
Police Chief Eddie Bogue said the department just recently lost an officer, Jarrett Bryson, who accepted a job with the Quincy Police Department.
BPW Superintendent Brent Abell reported a slight delay on having a test boring for a water source at the Jackson Park Golf Course with it being pushed back to October.
When asked about it, City Attorney James Lemon said negotiations continue on a Charter Communications pole attachment lease agreement.
Council member Earl Meyers, who chairs the House Committee, said he will continue to look for solutions to a roof leak at city hall.
Goodwin also asked if something could be done to improve the appearance of the city’s recycling center.