Mayors from across rural Missouri will meet Wednesday afternoon with Governor Mike Parson (R) in Odessa to discuss numerous topics, including transportation funding and prevailing wage issues.
Odessa Mayor Adam Couch says transportation is one of the biggest issues facing Odessa, which sits on I-70 in western Missouri’s Lafayette County.
“I-70 feeds a lot of traffic, a lot of business into our community,” Couch says. “And so being able to repair I-70 (and) expand it would be great.”
Mayor Couch supports the ten-cent gasoline tax increase that will appear on the November statewide ballot.
“It’s something that we’ve needed for quite some time,” says Couch. “I’ve read the report from the transportation commission and our roads, our infrastructure in general, are in dire need across the state.”
If approved by Missouri voters in November, the gasoline tax increase would be phased in over four years at 2.5 cents annually.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, describes the November ballot measure as a public safety tax, which would fund the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the road and bridge fund.
Missouri’s gasoline and diesel tax are both currently at 17-cents a gallon, and haven’t been increased since 1996.
Mayor Couch also tells Missourinet Odessa needs a new I-70 interchange near Highways 131 and 40.
Voters in eastern Missouri’s Warrenton approved two citywide sales tax increases to fund a new interchange there, due to a lack of funding from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, who served on Missouri’s 21st century transportation system task force, tweeted Tuesday, saying he’s glad to see Governor Parson discussing the importance of investing in Missouri infrastructure.
“Transportation is a major issue statewide. Should be an issue that brings everyone together- Democrats and GOP, urban and rural, business and labor, and traveling public who deserve good roads,” Razer tweeted.
Governor Parson told reporters in June at Mizzou that infrastructure must be a top priority.
Wednesday’s roundtable will start at 1:30 at Odessa Upper Elementary School.
Mayor Couch says it’s the first time he remembers a sitting governor visiting the town of about 5,300.
Couch says the governor is interested in hearing about the challenges rural Missouri is facing.
“The smaller, the breadbaskets of Missouri, you know, the hard workers, blue-collar workers, we just greatly appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule to come and spend some time with us and hear us out,” Couch says.
He says the prevailing wage and local control will also be discussed at the roundtable.
Mayors from at least 15 towns have been invited, including Chillicothe, Knob Noster and Lexington.
The Odessa Chamber of Commerce website says the town “offers the best of both worlds with a calm, quiet lifestyle, a variety of business opportunities, and easy access to I-70.”
The website says Odessa’s median household income is $48,932, up from $34,007 in 2000.
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Odessa Mayor Adam Couch, which was recorded on July 10, 2018:
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