The second-monthly “Munch with the Mayor,” hosted Saturday by Mexico Mayor Ayanna Shivers, consisted of ongoing city business, updates to the city pool and a discussion on community development.

The discussion was held at Brick City Buffet and Grill for the breakfast crowd. The first of such meetings was held at Pizza hut in May. Around a dozen community members attended Saturday to hear updates from Shivers and learn about the work of the city’s community development department from Director Rita Jackson. Discussion also focused on the city pool and its planned updates.

The July munch event is planned for 11:30 a.m., July 25, at the Mexico Senior Center. The August information session will take place at Casa Del Sol.

These monthly informational meetings are held as an informal way for the community to provide feedback to the city, Shivers said. At city council meetings, public input is limited to three minutes per person and is recorded as part of the public record.

“The power of a person’s voice is important. I wanted to make sure I gave the citizens of Mexico the opportunity to be in a forum that is informal — that they felt that at least the mayor or the city council members are accessible,” she said.

Meetings and events

Shivers offered a rundown of recent meetings and other events she’s attended in the past month. She recently attended the Missouri Municipal League meeting, where she was selected as the central region secretary. Mexico will host the January central region meeting, Shivers said.

“I think that is the first time we’ve ever decided to host them. We’re going to be taking them and showing off Presser Performing Arts Center. It’s a great way for us to let people know a lot of good things happen in Mexico,” she said.

Locally, she attended the McMillan Elementary School time capsule burial, Mexico Senior Center veterans’ appreciation, greeted the congregation at Second Missionary Baptist Church in celebration the Rev. Karl Thomas’ 12th year with the parish, attended the Miss Audrain and Miss Audrain Outstanding Teen send-off to the state pageant competition, received a recognition from the Miss Missouri pageant organization and attended the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Shivers represented the city June 13 when she attended the U.S. Highway 54 Coalition meeting. The goal of the coalition is to increase the highway to four lanes from start to finish.

City business, updates

Shivers then turned her focus to projects within Mexico city limits. The Holt Street resurfacing and sidewalk replacement is underway. That project is funded through a federal grant with the city providing 20% of the costs, and the grant covering the remaining 80%.

“Any time we’re putting in a new road, any time something like the main road downtown and there has to be sidewalks, they’re coming in with (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance,” Shivers said.

The city adopted a 30-year plan in March to update 38 miles of city sidewalks to ADA compliance. The city is trying to make sidewalks easier to access by those with disabilities.

“[We are doing] anything that we can do to make our city more accessible. We don’t have public transportation, so we’re glad to see the Holt Street construction under way.”

Concrete slabs for shelters at Lakeview Park also are under construction, as is the replacement of playground equipment at Hardin Park. The council in December approved a bid for the equipment’s replacement. Additional funds available meant the city could approve railroad theming for the equipment in January.

Discussion turned to the city pool, which is expected to be replaced as a $3 million project. The city has worked to set aside funds for the pool’s replacement so the city would not have to seek an increased tax levy or a bond issue from voters.

“Since the time I have been on the city council, it has always been something in the forefront,” Shivers said.

Public meetings are planned either in August or September, during which the community can view proposed plans for the look of the new pool, she said. The new pool likely will be located near the current pool’s location on Adams Street. Those decisions are still to be made, along with the final design decision, Shivers said.

Community Development

Code enforcement and community health and safety are the main tasks of the city’s Community Development Department. This includes new construction, existing structures, grass, junk and animal control. In the past year, the department has issued approximately 1,200 summons for various city code violations. Of those summonses, 29 went before the city’s municipal court.

A resident will receive a first notice on their door for a grass-height violation, for example. If the city does not hear from that resident about how they plan to address the violation, a letter is sent. If there is no response from the letter, then a certified letter is sent, which can take up to one month to be returned. The city can issue a code violation summons after a certified letter is returned with no response.

“Our code enforcement officer, they will work with you to make sure that the [violation] gets taken care of. We would rather be user friendly,” Jackson said. “Codes are set out strictly for health and safety.”

City building codes were updated in March to 2015 standards. The department’s code enforcement officer is working to be certified on those codes. The last time the city updated its building codes was 13 years ago, which meant the city was four code cycles out of date. This lessened the city’s homeowners’ insurance rating. The code update improved the city’s rating with Insurance Services Office, which helps determine insurance rates.

Other questions, updates

• Community members asked about sidewalks to nowhere in undeveloped areas. Developers are required to include sidewalks in the development plans they submit to the city. The city also has a sidewalk replacement program for homeowners to replace sidewalks in front of their homes. The city will pay $7 per running foot based on contractor plans.

• The city also has a program to demolish abandoned structures. The property owner can request a free demolition from the city. Lot ownership is retained by the property owner. A demolition agreement has to be signed, which the city then verifies the property owner. Structures are inspected for asbestos and the asbestos is removed prior to demolition. The only time a property would have to pay for a demolition is if that property goes through a code violation process that leads to the municipal court.

• City departments began the budget process for the next year. They develop line items for updates and other purchases throughout the 2020 fiscal year. The final budget will be presented and approved in September. The city’s fiscal year starts Oct. 1.