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Part 1 of a series looking at how rising costs will impact local government, schools and local businesses.
By Mike Scott
Inflation is taking a toll on everyone. Though down slightly since its 41-year high earlier this year, the annual inflation rate remains above eight percent annual. Prices of food, fuel, materials, and retail goods are up sharply.
One easy measure is the price of gasoline, which is up from an average $2.72 per gallon a year ago, to $4.19 per gallon, more than 50 percent higher than a year ago.
One year ago, diesel fuel cost $2.95 per gallon. Today, the average price in Missouri is $5.11, almost 70 percent higher.
Over the next few weeks, The Media is going to look at how inflation in impacting local government operations, the schools, and private businesses.
This week, we kick off this series by interviewing Clark County Commissioners Buddy Kattelmann, Henry Dienst and Joe Humes about the impact on the county.
“I think we’ll be okay this year,” said Kattelmann, who is the Presiding Commissioner.
He explained that at the beginning of the year, they bid quantities of fuel, rock and material for the year’s planned projects as part of the county’s budgeting process.
“We locked in 40,000 gallons of diesel, and 3000 gallons of gasoline,” he said. In a normal year, that amount will be enough for the year. Those figures do not include fuel used by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
“If we get to the end of the year, and we have a lot of snow, it could really cost us.
“People don’t realize, but every time we push snow, and go over the roads one time, and if we don’t have any breakdowns, in just fuel and man hours, the cost is about $7000,” said Kattelmann.
The county is responsible for maintaining nearly 550 miles of road.
“They say we need to grade the roads once a month, which we do whenever we can. But every time we get them just about in good shape, we get a two-inch rain,” he added.
The rock for the road maintenance for 2022 was also bid at the beginning of the year, so those costs are stable for now. In fact, the county has extra rock on hand at it’s location south of Kahoka. According to Kattelman, a quarry near Newark was closing and was “practically giving it away”.
In addition to maintaining county roads, the county has plans to build a couple bridges. Again, much of the material was bid, but steel prices are going up.
“Delivery delays have put us back on those,” added Kattelmann.
The county may get a better idea of the rising costs later this year, when they bid the replacement of Bridge 110-037.
“That’s the overhead railroad bridge by Wyaconda,” said Western Commissioner Joe Humes.
The cost of rising wages hasn’t hit the county yet. Salaries were set at the beginning of the year.
“I think we offer tremendous insurance, and we are very competitive, still, with salary,” said Kattelman.
In other news, the commission announced that Clark County had received a $217,305 grant from the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority grant for a feasibility study for a port facility at Alexandria.
“It would tell us that if someone wanted to come in with a project, whether it would be profitable,” said Kattelmann.
“MoDOT will have involvement in it, as well as the Corp of Engineers,” said Eastern Commissioner Henry Dienst.
Without providing any details, Dienst said there had been an individual looking at building a dry fertilizer facility.
“I think it even has potential to for a containerized operation,” said Dienst, noting the proximity to the highway, available electricity and rail.
“So I think there’s opportunities there to build a pretty good operation and maybe even nearby facility for parking goods in containers or trucks or whatever, until they can need offload or drawn loaded,” he said.
Clark County is working with the Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission on the project, and we will have more information from the RPC in the near future.