The screen saver on Steve Berg’s computer at Parkville City Hall gracefully fades between images of the Lagoon Nebula and the Pillars of Creation found in the Eagle Nebula, celestial images Berg shot himself at the Powell Observatory in Louisburg, Kan.
Not only are these images a reflection of Berg’s passion for astronomy, but they’re an indication of how he plans to spend more of his days, or specifically his nights, as he retires on Friday after 36 years as Parkville city treasurer.
Jimmy Carter was president of the United States and Don Hockmuth was mayor of Parkville in 1980 when Berg was approached to serve as city treasurer.
“At the time, the treasurer didn’t even have a desk at city hall,” Berg said, speaking of the circa 1900 train station that served as city hall until the 1993 Missouri River flood that decimated downtown Parkville.
“Of course, there were no computers either, so I did everything at home and just showed up at city hall a couple of times a month.”
At the time, the population of Parkville was fewer than 2,000 people. Today’s population of 7,200 is not the reason the city treasurer’s position has become a half-time position for Berg, and a full-time position for the individual who will replace him in October.
“The biggest change has been the complexity of the job,” Berg said. “Computers have made everything more complex by requiring us to do more. The state regulations and governmental accounting standards have become far more complex.”
By state statute, the city treasurer is an appointed position. Berg has served in three city halls under nine mayors, including Bill Quitmeier, the city’s longest serving mayor during Berg’s tenure.
“Steve was always so steady and so in control, a true professional,” said Quitmeier, mayor from 1991-2002, and on the board of alderman five years before that. “In all my years on the board, I never knew there to be a problem with his reports or had any concern whatsoever with his work.”
Despite his 36 years basically behind the scenes of Parkville’s growth, most people in southern Platte County know Berg and his wife, Joyce, as musicians. The lower level of their Parkville home, where they have taught hundreds of children to play the piano, is filled with pianos and other instruments. Berg also is one of the founders and the conductor of the Parkville Symphonic Band.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to composition and doing music for me,” he said. Berg and his wife will continue to teach piano.
▪ A public reception in Berg’s honor is planned for Thursday, Sept. 29, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Parkville City Hall, 8880 Clark Ave., Parkville.