As we come upon the close of 2022, I want to take this time to publicly thank all the employees at St. Charles County Government for their dedication and service. Like many businesses and organizations across the country, your County Government has experienced staffing shortages that have presented challenges and tested our perseverance.
As I write this, we have 149 open positions across 30 departments, with the biggest needs in Corrections, Emergency Communications (911 Dispatch), Police, Highway and Parks. The County Council will be approving the 2023 budget this month which has for their consideration a major overhaul of starting salaries and compensation for the County’s workforce. This is needed for County government to compete with others in the region, and to recruit and retain exceptional employees.
Despite these staffing issues, all departments have continued to provide the excellent service you have come to expect, and I am proud of that. Here are just some of their major accomplishments for 2022:
- POLICE DEPARTMENT: With American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, extended School Resource Officer (SRO) placement to include every public school in unincorporated St. Charles County, as well as Augusta Elementary School in the Washington School District, and schools in Dardenne Prairie and Weldon Spring. To learn more, click here.
- POLICE, SHERIFF, CORRECTIONS: Completed deployment of body cameras to improve transparency and public trust. The system also includes forward- and rear-facing cameras and routers for law enforcement vehicles.
- EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS: From January through October of this year, dispatchers answered 57,733 9-1-1 calls, and dispatched 57,617 police-related incidents and 53,627 fire and EMS-related incidents. 9-1-1 calls were answered, on average, within 3.3 seconds and 99.1 percent were answered within 10 seconds or less. National Emergency Number Association (NENA) standard is that all calls should be answered within 15 seconds 90 percent of the time.
- PUBLIC HEALTH: While down nearly 40 percent in staffing, all services were continued with little reduction of hours of operation.
- PARKS: Parks personnel designed, engineered, constructed, and opened Oglesby Park in Foristell in a record-breaking seven months. They even nearly filled a 12-acre lake in the middle of July and had fish in it for the opening!
- ROADS AND TRAFFIC: Installation and deployment of the Emergency Vehicle Preemption program is near completion. The program provides “green” light priority to approaching emergency vehicles, allowing first responders to reach their destinations quicker and safer. This includes upgraded technology at 351 intersections and in 200 emergency vehicles.
- WORKFORCE AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: In addition to organizing and publicizing the department’s move to a new location, employees provided 16,386 individual services to 3,097 clients and assisted 342 employers with 5,290 different services.
- HIGHWAY: Despite being 30 percent down in staffing, the department increased the number of work orders addressed/repaired and maintained the number of roads resurfaced compared to 2021.
- COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: In response to the flash flooding event on July 26, Community Development staff conducted a survey of more than 2,300 structures within three days and found 25 with major damage and 57 with minor damage. Staff also secured a $15 million CDBG-DR grant application for voluntary buyout of flood-damaged homes from the 2019 flood.
While this is a look back, and the list of accomplishments goes on, we’re continuing to move forward. You can read more by perusing our website, reviewing past issues of this newsletter or reading our press releases. You can also stay up to date by following us on social media. And watch for the County’s Impact Report to the Community that will be mailed to all St. Charles County households in the spring.
Again, many thanks to our employees for a successful 2022. I wish all of them, and all of you, a happy, healthy holiday season.