Audrain County finally was able to decide on its leadership for the city and the school board Tuesday in the municipal election that originally was slated to take place April 7. Municipal elections were postponed two months by Gov. Mike Parson over public safety concerns related to the coronavirus.
Incumbents were able to retain their seats on the council and school board, but there will be new faces on both. Steve Nichols from the city council and Brian Rowe from the school board decided to not seek re-election this year. Winners gave their reactions to the election and what they see as their next steps for their respective positions.
Shivers is delighted Mexico residents felt she deserved her seat back on the council. This will allow her and the council to continue things that were started prior to the election, she said.
“That means continuing to try to let people know they have a voice and a place to be involved in their commmunity, she said.
Shivers is excited that the use tax passed and the city will be able to have the much-needed improvements to Fairground Pool.
“I hope to see our community to continue evolve and attract more businesses,” Shivers said.
Haag is a new to the city council, but is not unfamiliar with leadership roles. He is the Mexico High School football coach, as well as a bus driver for the district and a credit recovery instructor.
His first step is to learn the intricacies of city government, he said.
“Hopefully my learning curve is not that much, but I want to do my part to hopefully make Mexico a better community,” he said.
The next major phase for the council is to start having meetings related to the city budget. The current budget year ends in September and the city will have to prepare for the effects of the coronavirus. Haag is hopeful for greater business development during his first term on the council, as well.
“I’ll sit down with [city staff] and learn just how the budget is distributed and what money there is left to do special projects,” he said. “[We should] look at continuing to bring business to Mexico and, with that, is getting a labor force that is ready to work for the businesses that might want to bring their work to Mexico.”
Increasing business opportunities means increasing tax revenue which will help further fund city projects, he said.
Teel will serve for her second term on the Mexico School District 59 board after winning re-election Tuesday. She currently serves as the board treasurer.
Teel was pleased with the decent voter turnout and is ready to welcome new board member Todd Yager.
The board recently hired Tammy Lupardus and Melissa Chastain as its new superintendent and assistant superintendent, respectively. Teel wants to focus on their transition into their new district leadership roles, which start July 1.
“I’m super excited to see how the district is going to flourish with these new people in these new positions,” she said.
The transition of new leadership will have to coincide with plans about how to reopen schools in August in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Teel said.
“I think we’ll just have to see and help guide and support the superintendent in the decisions she makes as to what we do next with the students,” she said.
Pascoe is grateful to voters who returned him to his seat on the school board. It is a vote of confidence in the work he has done, he said.
“It gives me confidence to continue to be a good steward for the district,” he said.
Board continuity is important with so many changes happening on a daily basis, he said.
Pascoe is focused on improving classroom learning and expanding prekindergarten and social-emotional learning opportunities. Those are his long-term goals. More immediately, though, is transitioning the new superintendents into their roles. Budget is another immediate concern.
“We need to figure out how the governor’s budget withholdings are going to impact us for next year,” he said. “We need to make sure programs are impacted as little as possible. No one is anticipating a yearslong process, but there will be some things to get over in the short term.”
Yager is pleased with the community support to his appointment to the Mexico school board. He said he’s ready to serve.
Yager says he does not have an agenda for his position, but he still wants to get up to speed on any issues happening in the district.
“I have talked to a few people and I want to make sure I am asking the right questions, and that I have the knowledge to be as successful as I can be for the community,” he said.
City and County use tax
Use tax questions in Mexico, Martinsburg, Vandalia and the county all passed Tuesday night. The implementation of the use tax is slightly different for each entity. Looking at Mexico and the county, it will go toward funding Fairground Pool improvements in Mexico, while use tax revenue in Audrain County will go toward any potential budget shortfalls.
“We are very appreciative the voters of the county — and every city that put the use tax on — were able to understand the issue and voted in favor of fairness for main street,” Audrain County Eastern District Commissioner Alan Winders said. “It was a difficult issue to explain.”
Revenue from the use tax mostly comes from online sales. The communities that passed the use tax now are able to collect their portion of what already is collected by the state.
Mexico and the county are estimated to receive upward of $152,000 in use tax revenue annually. The additional revenue will go to the county’s general revenue fund.
“That is revenue that should have been on the sales tax side,” Winders said. “It’s extra money in terms of we are not going to lose it from internet sales, but it is not necessarily extra money for services we provide. I see it as making up revenue that would have been lost.”