Board of Aldermen Meeting Agendas & Minutes
Every effort is made to ensure that the Agendas and Minutes provided on this and subsequent pages is timely and correct; however, users should keep in mind that this information is provided only as a public convenience. In any case where legal reliance on information is required, the official records of the City of Ballwin should be consulted.
The Board of Aldermen meet on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Ballwin Government Center, 1 Government Ctr. Schedule and place subject to change. Meetings are open to the public. All citizens are urged to attend.
Board of Aldermen Meeting
CITY OF BALLWIN
1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call
3. Pledge of Allegiance
4. Approval of Minutes: January 28, 2013 Board of Aldermen meeting
5. Proclamation: None.
6. Pending Issues: None.
7. Citizen Comments
8. Public Hearing: None.
11. Mayor’s Report
13. Staff Reports
14. City Attorney’s Report
15. Aldermanic Comments
NOTE: Due to ongoing City business, all meeting agendas should be considered tentative. Additional issues may be introduced during the course of the meeting.
BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING BRIEFS
This is a condensed summary of the action items which will be considered at tonight’s Board Meeting. It has been prepared to give you a greater understanding of the issues which will be discussed. If you have comments, questions, or concerns, please call (636) 227-8580. If you would like to know more about the programs or services which we provide, please dial our 24-Hour Information Line (636) 207-2300, or visit us on the web at www.ballwin.mo.us.
If you wish to address the Board during this meeting, please fill out the “Citizen Comments: To Address the Board of Aldermen” form and place it in the tray on the table in the center of the Board Room before the meeting begins. Topics of a global nature, such as requests for ballot initiative endorsements, should be submitted in writing to the City Clerk at 14811 Manchester Road, prior to the meeting.
Please limit your comments to 3 minutes as an individual and 5 minutes representing a group. Please avoid repeating comments others have already made.
FERRIS PARK PLANNING GRANT (Resolution)
STREET DESIGNATIONS (Bill # 3776)
FERRIS PARK PLANNING SERVICES
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Pogue at 7:00 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
The Minutes of the January 28, 2013 Board of Aldermen meeting were submitted for approval. Mayor Pogue amended page 5under City Attorney’s report. “Two of the” should start the topic “Kimball Lawsuit”. A motion was made by Alderman Harder and seconded by Alderman Fleming to accept the amendment. A voice vote was taken with an affirmative result and the motion passed.
City Attorney Jones said that the word “insured” should be “insurers” in the same paragraph. A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Finley accept the amendment. A voice vote was taken with an affirmative result and the motion passed.
A motion was made by Alderman Finley and seconded by Alderman Terbrock to approve the Minutes as amended. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
A RESOLUTION TO APPLY FOR A MUNICIPAL PARK PLANNING GRANT
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Boerner to adopt the Resolution. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
BILL # 3776 - AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR A SPEED LIMIT OF 40 MPH ON CERTAIN STREETS WITHIN THE CITY OF BALLWIN
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Terbrock for a first reading of Bill No. 3776. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result, the motion passed and Bill No. 3776 was read for the first time.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Fleming for a second reading of Bill No. 3776. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3776 was read for the second time.
A roll call was taken for passage and approval of Bill No. 3776 with the following results:
CONSENT ITEMS: (Budgeted items which are low bid and do not exceed expenditure estimates and/or items which have been previously approved in concept.)
A. Pool Chemicals – (Award to the lowest of 6 bidders, Hawkins, Inc. for the purchase and delivery of pool chemicals for the maintenance of pools at The Pointe and North Pointe for 2013 in the amount of $30,472.00)
B. Parks Apparel – (Award to the low bidder, Treetop Enterprise for purchase of specified program participant and staff apparel in the amount of $16,857.75)
A motion was made by Alderman Boerner and seconded by Alderman Fleming to accept the Consent Items as recommended by staff. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Legal Services: Mayor Pogue said there were questions that some of the Mayors had regarding legal services for the Great Streets Committee. Those questions have been resolved. He asked if there were any questions about the agreement with Lewis Rice.
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Boerner to enter into an agreement with the Lewis Rice firm, for legal services for the Great Streets project, and to authorize the Mayor to sign the agreement on behalf of the City. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Large cargo vans being used for signage: Mayor Pogue said these trucks are parked along Manchester Road. Some of the vehicles are not moved for months. He asked the Board to ask City Attorney Jones and City Planner Aiken to look into tightening the legislation to prevent this. This type of vehicle signage doesn’t follow what has been accepted with the Great Streets Project in creating a visual aspect for the area. He asked that these vehicles not be allowed to park in the parking spaces along Manchester Road on private property. He said an example is “Lifetime Fitness”. They are using a large cargo van as signage for the business. AT&T Mobil has a large cargo that has not been moved in a long time.
Mayor Pogue said there is a section in the Code of Ordinances that restricts parking of comercial vehicles to a delivery zone. The problem is that the size of the vehicle is just under what is designated as a commercial vehicle. This seems to be avoiding the sign ordinance and taking away from the Great Streets theme. Alderman Harder said that some have wrapped a banner around a van as signage.
City Administrator Kuntz said that this type of van signage is being seen more frequently. Mayor Pogue said he has not seen this in other municipalities along Manchester Road. Alderman Fleming said that if they are parking the vehicle in the same plaza where the business is located, it will be difficult to find a solution to this issue. Mayor Pogue said that if the vehicle is being used for deliveries, this would be understandable, but this particular situation is falling into a loophole.
Alderman Terbrock said that when U-Haul was renovating their property, this was addressed, and they were limited as to where on the site vehicles could be parked. It’s not fair to restrict one business, but then allow another business to do this.
A motion was made by Alderman Harder and seconded by Alderman Terbrock to instruct staff to review this for further consideration. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion carried.
America’s Safest Cities: Mayor Pogue said that Ballwin was selected as one of America’s Safest Cities. Ballwin is ranked as the 47th safest city in America. We are the only city in Missouri to receive a ranking in the top 100. This was done by an organization called “Neighborhood Scout”, which is also a relocation magazine, which is distributed nationally. Each year this list is published, for cities with 25,000 or more population based on the total number of crimes per thousand residents. They use FBI data from 2011 to compile the list. The plaque is on display in the Police Department.
Gun-Safe Zones: Mayor Pogue said this was mentioned by a resident at the last meeting. He said, “We are tied to the State statute, Chapter 571 wherein firearms are allowed to be carried by the public, but not in police departments, court rooms, and meetings of public access. The issue of gun safety goes beyond what some are trying to do to limit the recurrence of incidents like those that have already happened. Some want to do away with high capacity magazines. I see it as they are trying to ban firearms that I used to train my kids to respect and the safe handling of firearms, just because of the magazine capacity. I don’t think that is the solution. Until the mental health element is addressed, I think, unfortunately, we’re still going to have some of these tragedies.”
CITY ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
Ferris Park Planning Services: City Administrator Kuntz said the Resolution was approved to support the planning grant application. If we are successful, that will help to defray the cost of the planning services. The way this process works is we apply for funds through the Regional Parks system. We have been successful, through the coordination of Director of Parks & Recreation Linda Bruer, to secure such funds in the past. Last year we received money from the fund to purchase the additional land at Ferris Park. Now we are looking at the development of construction plans and specifications for the first phase of that project, the planning of which was also funded late last year by the Parks Department. After interviewing and discussing this professional service with other firms, it is recommended that we award this contract to SWT, who did the initial planning work and has a familiarity with the project. With this contract award and perhaps the success of the funding application to defray some of our cost, we could move forward with construction on the first phase in late summer. The whole park project will probably include 3 phases before completion. Park grants give a limited amount of money for each project. By phasing it, there is a better chance of getting outside funding.
Mayor Pogue asked for the plans to be posted online.
Alderman Harder asked if it is likely that since the project will be spread out over 3 years, they will cut us off for phase 2 and then have a half-done project? Parks Director Bruer said the grant money we received this past Fall was for construction on phase 1. We anticipate finishing the project by the deadline which is February, 2014. If we do the additional design on phase 1 and do some initial design on phase 2, which is the parking lot, rain garden, play field and walking path, we can apply for another grant in the Fall of 2013, that would be for phase 2 construction. If we take it incrementally and every year apply for a grant, it doesn’t mean we will receive a grant every year. She would like to apply for a full phase of the project each time.
City Administrator Kuntz said that almost zero Ballwin dollars have been used so far. We may have to do a larger local match to insure a better chance of being awarded a grant for the next phase. Alderman Harder asked if Ballwin can reimburse itself if it receives the grant? Parks Director Bruer said it depends on how much dollar-wise phase 2 of the budget is, but generally the grantee cannot reimburse itself, but in-kind costs can sometimes be counted toward the local match. There’s a cap on the grants.
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Terbrock to approve the contract for Ferris Park planning services as recommended by Staff, awarding the contract to SWT Design. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Board Room Renovation Meeting: City Administrator Kuntz said a meeting was held with the architects that are preparing the final plans for the redesign of the Board / Court room. He said he hopes to be able to put it out to bid by the end of this month, review, and make a recommendation for a contract award by the first meeting in April.
City Administrator Kuntz said that construction will take approximately 60 – 90 days. This will interfere with the availability of the room for meetings of the Board of Aldermen, Municipal Court sessions, Planning & Zoning, and Board of Adjustment. If the Board continues with the summer schedule of one meeting each month, this will be helpful. He asked for Board permission to discuss with a neighboring city the possibility of using one of their municipal facilities as an alternative meeting place for court. There are a lot of issues related to the court that require a special facility.
Mayor Pogue said that the Board of Aldermen meeting could be held at the Golf Clubhouse. Alderman Harder asked about the Court meeting at the Golf Clubhouse. City Administrator Kuntz said that this will be during the prime time of the golf season, so there may be a parking issue. There are many security issues that are specific to the court that will be harder to address at the clubhouse.
Alderman Terbrock asked if there is any legal issue regarding holding court in another municipality. City Attorney Jones said that he doesn’t see any issue with having court in another municipality, but there may be an issue with having certain legislation that we consider in the public hearings outside of the city. Some municipalities contract with St. Louis County and hold their court nights in St. Louis County. Some of the legislation and public hearings that we hold before this Board and the Planning & Zoning Commission could not be held outside of the City of Ballwin.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Fleming to authorize staff to look into the possibility of holding the court sessions at another facility. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Code Enforcement: Assistant City Administrator Aiken said he has provided information on how a code violation is determined, the threshold for a violation, and how notices of enforcement are distributed.
Alderman Harder presented slides of what appear to be various code violations in the area. Some of the items he pointed out are a front porch being used as a storage shed, many recycle and trash bins on the side of the house, an abandoned house with the sidewalks and driveway removed, debris piled in the front yard, 3-foot tall grass, siding coming off the side of a house, a home business with construction trailers and trucks parked in the driveway, construction materials piled on the side of the house, roof improperly installed with shingles hanging over the gable side of the roof, bent gutters, mold on the side of the house, trash in the yard, several trash carts at the curb with many yard waste plastic bags that have been at the location for at least a month or more, two boats, a skate board ramp, RV parked past the front building line, rock driveway constructed through the front yard in addition to the concrete driveway on the side.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said there is no code prohibiting construction of a rock driveway, and there’s no permit required to put in a driveway unless it is going to extend into the right-of-way. He said that recreation vehicles cannot be parked in the front yard, but how far into the front yard is too far? What are you going to tell the resident who has his 40-foot RV parked so that 4 feet of the vehicle is in front of the garage? Are we going to cite people for having children’s toys in their yard? How many toys? Are 2 or 3 okay, but 10 too many? Where to we draw the line? These are enforcement philosophy issues that are involved. The trash and siding coming off the house are clearly violations. There are some issues that can be addressed. How many weeds are allowed in a flower bed before too many weeds are in the bed? Grass over 6 inches high is a violation. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that if the Board wants Code Enforcement to be harder and draw the line tighter, this can be done, but he said the Board will eventually get push-back from the residents. Finding the appropriate line of enforcement is difficult and usually is case-by-case situation.
Alderman Terbrock said that on a corner lot, it is more difficult for someone to park their RV. Mr. Aiken said the ordinance doesn’t address that issue. Boats and utility trailers fall under the same regulations. Some cities require property owners to screen accumulated items in the yard but don’t otherwise prohibit them. Our ordinance doesn’t provide for this. It’s legal to run a construction business out of a residence, as long as the residential business accessory use criteria is met. Trucks aren’t always commercial vehicles as the code is written. A trailer in a front yard is always a violation. Everyone who has trash and recycle carts in the front yard when it’s not pick up day is in violation of the code. There are some issues that if we enforce a code on one resident, we will have to do the same on a bunch of people in the same neighborhood. Some front yard items are not all legitimate violations in the technical definition of the code. We have not had complaints from the neighbors in the neighborhood where most of the slides were taken. This is why we have not taken any action. If we do this, the whole neighborhood will have to be notified, which will probably result in complaints and push back.
Alderman Harder said that the philosophy is that unless a resident calls in a complaint, it’s ignored. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that we try to be diligent about the obvious house code violations, but regarding the one house that has a sagging roof gutter, we would never cite that. It’s not enough of a violation to warrant this action. It’s not a safety issue. For outdoor storage, there’s kind of a hole in the code. It doesn’t address things like construction equipment, ladders, materials. If the items are neatly stacked in the back yard, it’s okay. If it’s strewn out across the yard or in a big pile, it’s a violation. Some people have very little tolerance and are unhappy about anything being in the front yard and others don’t care. This is the reason we rely on how the neighbors feel about it. If we get complaints that are violations, we address it. The general observation is that in neighborhoods where there are large yards, there seems to be more items accumulated in the yard. Some people buy houses with large yards so that they can leave items in the yard. These are the realities of enforcing these types of regulations.
Alderman Harder said he sees this problem getting worse. There is an inconsistent policy. Unless someone brings it to our attention, or it’s not too bad, this can decrease property values. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that if the Board wants tighter enforcement, we can do this. There are reasons the codes are enforced as they are, and there can be political ramifications. It will take more time to patrol for these types of violations. From March until the middle of October, the inspectors are busy with construction inspections, etc. We have a scheduled vegetation patrol where the inspectors look for violations and follow up. A notice is issued and follow up to see if the grass has been cut. If there is a reoccurrence at the same location, we go ahead and have the grass mowed. Code Enforcement Supervisor Jerry Klein does a lot of investigation on complaints.
Alderman Fleming said after friendly notification letters are sent and the area is re-inspected, a reasonably intelligent person should be able to infer that when the area is re-inspected and his conditions are the same, he will receive a citation. Only so much of that approach can be done, and then more inspectors will have to be hired. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that the philosophy has always been not to be aggressive in this kind of enforcement. If the Board wants more violations cited without contact from the neighbors, more help will be needed, particularly in the summer months. There are 12,000 single-family residences in Ballwin. It’s difficult to be familiar with all of the residences, and the inspectors don’t drive on every street every week. Unless we are doing an aggressive patrol looking at every house on a regular basis, things are going to slip through.
Alderman Harder asked if we had to hire someone, would a grass inspector be hired in order to free up our inspectors. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that this was done years ago. We had a summer intern and the primary responsibility was to look for vegetation violations. This would require a full-time person to come on board around the middle of March until early October.
Alderman Harder said that some of the subdivision indentures state no construction material, clothes lines, etc. Mr. Aiken said that a lot of the subdivisions that have these indentures don’t want to enforce them. They are trying to get Ballwin to enforce them. If the subdivision has a regulation that prohibits clothes lines, there’s nothing our inspectors can do because clothes lines are not prohibited by Ballwin codes. The same is true if the subdivision won’t allow fences above 4 feet high, we allow fences to be 6 feet high.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said we periodically put articles about property maintenance in the Resident Newsletter, but it’s not good to publish in every quarterly newsletter things the residents cannot do. It comes across pretty negative.
City Administrator Kuntz said the RV and boats are seasonal. As people get ready to use these things, they will pull them out of storage, perhaps from another city, and park them in the driveway. If we are going to send letters and issue citations to everyone who does this, there will definitely be a lot of unhappy residents.
Alderman Harder asked do we consider these items a problem, or should we let it go and don’t take further action? Do we want to instruct staff to check to see what other cities are doing to address these issues and come up with a plan? Mayor Pogue said he wants to see how the new weed and grass ordinance plays out this year. City Attorney Jones said that there is language on accumulation of rubbish and debris in the new ordinance.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said if a trampoline is upside down, is it trash or still a useable trampoline? If a pool is collapsed down and there’s no water in it, is it now trash or still a legitimate pool? Where do you draw the line? The ordinance clearly doesn’t address this. Is one downspout fallen down enough to be cited?
City Administrator Kuntz said that if we get complaints, we deal with it. A structural is easy because it’s usually visible.
Alderman Harder said that he believes in some cases we have let our guard down and we need to step it up a little bit, or else these items will turn into bigger problems. He said he is concerned for this community and for the residents who have to live next to the debris or violations. The person who takes good care of their property can’t get a good selling price for their home if they were wanting to do this.
Alderman Finley said we need to prevent or limit unnecessary government intrusion upon individuals and families. He feels that complaint driven is a good approach. He sees a danger in turning our code enforcement into an onerous agency that’s going to be looking for every minor problem. Are our code enforcement people going to have to go out with rulers to measure everyone’s grass? If the grass is long, is this a family that had to go out of town for a week for a funeral? He said he doesn’t want to come down on those people.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that pursuant to this exact kind of circumstance, tall grass notices are not issued on Thursday or Friday. They may cut the grass on Saturday, open the mail, and see a grass notice. The notices are issued on Monday or Tuesday. We try to have sensitivity to these things.
Alderman Finley said dangerous conditions should be acted upon quickly, but the rest could be left to complaint driven. If someone is required to appear in court, he is in favor of zero tolerance for no-show in court. City Attorney Jones said this is the court’s discretion. You could suggest a range of penalties, but the judge cannot be directed to issue a warrant on the first court appearance.
Alderman Harder said that real estate open house signs should be used appropriately on the weekends for the open house. If an agent doesn’t pick up the signs when the open house is over, the signs may be picked up by the municipality if the sign is in the right-of-way. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that he has seen his inspectors take 20 signs out of the trunk of their cars. On any Monday morning in the summer, he could pick up 20 signs in a couple of hours. They are all over town. They are regularly put out and not regularly taken down. The inspectors do not take signs off of private property, only out of the public right-of-way. We never pick up a “for sale by owner” sign without sending a note first.
Alderman Finley asked what is the procedure when a boat and trailer is parked in the driveway. Police Chief Schicker said that there is a time frame that the boat and trailer can be parked in the driveway to prepare it for travel or for storage. This is usually a day or two. After that, a violation can be cited. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that the ordinance doesn’t give a specific time frame. He said the ordinance should be tighter than it is written.
Alderman Fleming said that he is in general agreement that health and safety issues should be cited when it is viewed. In general, the complaint driven process has worked well. This is not a worse problem than in any other community. These things are always going to happen. He is comfortable trusting the judgment of the inspectors. We don’t always understand the circumstances that people have. It could be someone out of town for a funeral, or the house belongs to a 90-year old citizen. Alderman Boerner agreed with Aldermen Fleming and Finley.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that what appears to be a violation are not usually cited the first day they appear. An example is there was a gentleman that parked his RV on the street for several days. They had to move it out of a flood zone so that the vehicle wouldn’t get damaged by flood waters. He was told that it couldn’t remain parked there for an unlimited period of time. They found another acceptable location for the RV. He said it’s been the feeling that giving people more time to take care of an issue is more important than issuing a court summons to get faster compliance.
Alderman Dogan said he agrees with Aldermen Fleming and Finley that the most pressing need is for enforcement on issues that are touching on health and safety. He asked if there is a codified definition of what constitutes a safety violation. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said health and safety violations most often appears while doing a housing inspection with deficiencies in electrical or plumbing systems. Exterior items, with the exception of swimming pools, rarely get to the point that they are health and safety issues.
Alderman Terbrock said that Ballwin has been designated seven times as one of the best places to live. If we are not being inundated with complaints, then the residents must be okay with how their community looks. People continue to move here. He doesn’t think there is any great problem with code enforcement.
City Administrator Kuntz asked what is the Board saying at this point? Mayor Pogue said that he thinks the Board wants code enforcement to be stepped up to take immediate action of health and safety items, repeat offenders, and continue on a complaint driven basis.
Alderman Terbrock said he would like further discussion on the RV parking issue.
Alderman Finley thanked Alderman Harder for all the work he did on the slide presentation.
CITY ATTORNEY’S REPORT
Pay Plan: Alderman Boerner asked for the City Administrator’s report on the progress of the Pay Plan. City Administrator Kuntz said that staff is working on the analysis and targeting the 59 employees that were not originally included. They were not included in the original staff analysis because they were not out of range. The impact is in the process of being reviewed. The challenge is that some of those positions have a single incumbent in the class and being able to determine relative impact internally is not feasible. He said it’s his understanding that the finance clerk is almost finished with this report. It can be ready for discussion at the next meeting.
LAGERS: Alderman Boerner asked if Aldermen can be part of LAGERS. City Administrator Kuntz said yes. “There is a form provided when a new alderman comes on board, that they can sign to join. There are some aldermen right now that have been part of it since they were elected, and others, such as yourself, that never signed the form. You took the oath of office later than the others with whom you were elected. You were not sworn in until May. When your term ends, you will not have completed the five years. I have looked at this very carefully on your behalf.”
Alderman Boerner asked, “Was I informed of that?” City Administrator Kuntz said, “You were informed. According to the HR Coordinator, you were as every newly elected official is.” Alderman Boerner asked, “Have you documented that?” City Administrator Kuntz said, “My understanding is that everyone was informed of this.” Alderman Fleming said he’s in the program. Alderman Boerner asked, “Where was it documented? I don’t remember having been informed of this.” City Administrator Kuntz said, “I don’t know why you would have been excluded. I was told by the HR Coordinator that you were.” Alderman Boerner said, “Unless it’s documented, I’ve been on the Board for almost five years, and I do not recall ever being informed that I had an option to get into LAGERS.” City Administrator Kuntz said, “When you came in to fill out your papers, I wasn’t part of that process, but when everyone comes in to fill out their dependents and all their information, that’s when that information is provided. You can sign up as recently as tomorrow if you wanted to, and it would be contributed into the pot, but it would not be to your vesting because you will be gone before you are vested in this term.” Alderman Boerner said, “So, I became an employee as of May 1?” City Administrator Kuntz said, “No, it was the date that you were actually sworn in, which was the first meeting in May, 2008 (May 12, 2008). That record we do have because you signed the Oath of Office that night, and not sworn in with the other members at the April meeting.” Alderman Boerner said, “I remember that, but I do not remember being informed of being able to join LAGERS. I thought it would require 1,000 hours like it is with private employers.” City Administrator Kuntz said, “What’s interesting, and I don’t mean to be argumentative, people before you, had been given the opportunity and elected to do so, and people after you had been given the opportunity and elected not to. I can’t without having the paper in front of me, I cannot defend that particular action nor can I give you a logical explanation why somebody would not have informed you when they informed everyone else.”
Alderman Boerner said, “Certain people have said that they were sort of misled and that you need to be in five years. You need to be here five years before you can be vested, so don’t worry about it. Their thought was, well, I have to be here five years before I can sign up. At least 2 or 3 people said that. That’s the situation, and it’s my contention that I wasn’t informed.” City Administrator Kuntz said, “The policy is that everyone is supposed to be informed. Shamed, were you informed?” Shamed said, “Maybe”. Alderman Harder said, “It was a form that you had to sign that you either accept or decline. It was a form that you filled out for personnel, a piece of paper when you do your W2.” Alderman Boerner said, “That you said that you either want to be in LAGERS or you don’t want to be in LAGERS?” Alderman Harder said, “I checked the box and signed it.” City Administrator Kuntz said, “This is the policy.”
City Administrator Kuntz said, “I researched your date with the City Clerk as to when you were administered the Oath. There is a five-year vesting. I didn’t have the dialog to inform you to be in it or not be in it, but I know that there’s a form that everybody is given. Some members in this room have elected to be in it.” Alderman Boerner said, “Some members are five years after and some are still not in it. They were supposedly informed.” Alderman Boerner said, “Shamed, were you informed?” Alderman Dogan said, “I probably was, but I didn’t pay much attention.” Alderman Fleming said, “I’m in. I started doing the calculation way back when, so I signed up.”
City Administrator’s Review: Alderman Boerner asked, “When is Mr. Kuntz’s review?” Mayor Pogue said, “This will be prior to the April election when we have a full Board.” City Administrator Kuntz said, “It can be done after the April election, but before the new Board is sworn in, which will be the first meeting in April (April 8). The last meeting in March is usually cancelled.”
Federal Funding: Alderman Dogan said “I wanted to think through any implications of this sequester that everyone has been hearing about on TV. A lot of what I’ve seen, and this may or may not be misinformation from the Federal Government, was essentially that Police Departments would be taking a pretty big hit if they received any kind of Federal funding. Lots of other municipal departments might be taking a big hit with across the board pay cuts. Thankfully, City Administrator Kuntz informed me, which I kind of had a sense of was that we don’t actually rely on that much Federal funding. To the extent that we do, I was curious to see whether or not our departments had taken that into account. If there is a huge cut in funding from the Federal government, how would they be able to cover that in the budget? To the extent that this is relevant to anyone, I want to encourage looking at this.”
Police Department Website and Citizen Information: Alderman Dogan said, “I was checking out a couple of other municipality sites and the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” has a handy index of crimes where you can look at maps of where the crimes have been reported throughout the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Some residents have told me about some incident that occurred in their subdivision such as someone breaking into a garage, drugs, or other suspicious activity. Is there a pattern of activity in a certain part of Ballwin? He has been looking at the media, Patch, West NewsMagazine, or doing it through social media and Facebook. I think there should be more publicly available information from our Police Department. Currently, our website doesn’t have any crime statistics, or information linking to a map of incidents that take place in Ballwin. This would be extremely helpful to the average resident who wants to get information about their subdivision. Chesterfield has a link to the St. Louis County Crime Incident Maps. They give you what the offense is and the address. They don’t give more details. At least having the map to show the incidents is helpful. Right now, the only information Ballwin residents have is what shows up in the media reports.”
Mayor Pogue said that Chesterfield uses St. Louis County’s dispatching service. Police Chief Schicker said, “Those cities that contract for communication services also through CARE, have the added mapping feature through CAD. Because we have our own dispatch center, that information isn’t submitted to St. Louis County through the CAD system. On the County’s website, you can pull up an incident, but it doesn’t show when it occurred, only when the incident was reported. In our press releases to the community through West NewsMagazine and Patch, we indicate the hundred block of an address, what was taken, what occurred, the timeframe, more detail than what you will find in these drop-down pin point screens. From the responses I’ve received back from the community, they find that a lot more helpful than a pin pointed map. Many times when someone is looking to move into Ballwin, they stop into the Police Department and ask about a neighborhood. They can’t get that information from their realtor because it’s prohibited. We can provide that information to them.”
Police Chief Schicker said, “We can take the same press release and tag it on to a drop-down screen within our Police Department webpage. There’s a management level as to who is going to keep it updated and decide how long the information will remain on the webpage. That will be better than providing a contract service that provides us with a program that gives us that same type of detail that the County program does with limited information. It would be better going the route we’re currently using or expanding it.”
Alderman Dogan said it should be transparent and visually appealing so that people can see patterns. It’s too onerous to expect someone to have to go to the Police Department to see what’s going on crime-wise in their subdivision. This information should be online.
Alderman Harder said, “The PR piece that we get weekly on crime, a lot of it shows break-ins and things like that, but when the statistics come out at the end of the year, more serious crimes are on that report. Is there a filter that’s being applied to the PR piece?” Police Chief Schicker said, “That’s because a lot of those incidents are personally related, many times involve juveniles either as victims or perpetrators. If you look at the County’s website, there are no reports of sex crimes, domestic violence or anything like that. They don’t list DWIs or motor vehicle accidents. Generally what is provided to the community are those incidents that are property related crimes, property damage, thefts, burglaries, robberies. A lot of the aggravated assault incidents are domestic related, so, we don’t put those out.” Alderman Harder said, “So what you’re putting out is basically property related.” Police Chief Schicker said, “Pretty much so.”
Alderman Harder said, “There’s more crime in Disney Land than what’s coming through here.” Police Chief Schicker said, “The award that we recently received, they went by the most available statistical information through UCR that we report to the FBI. That’s based on all classes of crimes. Whenever you look at that, based on our population, we’ve got a very low crime index as compared to our neighbors. A lot of that is attributed to the level of enforcement, the education that we provide to the residents in the community with regard to home safety, keeping garage doors closed, don’t leave items visible in vehicles, etc. The four recent incidents of windows being broken out of vehicles was because there were visible items in the vehicles. There’s more of this during the Christmas season, at the beginning of summer when golf clubs are in the car, etc. We don’t have a lot of serious major crime like rapes, robberies, or homicides.”
Allied Waste Automated Trucks: Alderman Finley said these trucks are performing well; however, there could be a problem with cars parking in the cul-de-sacs on trash collection day. Mayor Pogue said that one of the supervisors checks in to see if there are any issues. Has there been any feedback from Allied about any other issues? City Administrator Kuntz said not at this time. We will have to continue monitoring this.
Morning Court: Alderman Finley asked if there are any municipalities that hold the court session in the morning? Municipal Court sessions are always done in the evening, and he is aware of a couple that are held in the morning. He said this is outrageous and burdensome. He said he never wants to see that happen in Ballwin. Municipal Court should always be in the evening. City Attorney Jones said there aren’t many. University City has their housing court at noon. There are a couple of municipalities that have late afternoon sessions, but it’s very few. Alderman Finley said he knows of someone who has to appear in Wentzville at 9:30 a.m. and also one in north county. He again said he never wants to see that happen here.
Adjourn: A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Boerner to adjourn. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 p.m.
TIM POGUE, MAYOR