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
MEETING NOTICE Closed Session
The Ballwin Board of Aldermen will meet in on Monday, March 24, 2008 at 6:15 p.m. and then adjourn to closed session to discuss personnel. The regular scheduled Board of Aldermen meeting will resume at 7:00 p.m. in the Board Room at the Donald Red Loehr Police & Court Center, 300 Park Drive.
Residents of Ballwin are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in the programs and services of the City of Ballwin regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, familial status, national origin or political affiliation. If you are a person requiring an accommodation, please call (636) 227-8580 (V) or (636) 527-9200 (TDD) or 1-800-735-2966 (Relay Missouri) no later than 5:00 P.M. on the third business day preceding the meeting. Offices are open between 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
March 24, 2008
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Young at 6:15 p.m.
Closed Session: A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Kerlagon to adjourn to Closed Session to discuss personnel. A roll call vote was taken with the following result: Ayes: Aldermen Pogue, Buermann, Suozzi, Robinson, Fleming, Kerlagon. Nay: None. The motion passed to adjourn to Closed Session at 6:16 p.m.
The Board convened in closed session at 6:17 p.m. A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Lembke to adjourn the closed session. A roll call vote was taken with a unanimous result and the closed session adjourned at 6:55 p.m.
The Board reconvened in open session at 7:05 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
The Minutes of the March 10, 2008 Board of Aldermen meeting and closed session were submitted for approval. A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to approve the Minutes. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
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. Uniforms / Shirts
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson and seconded by Alderman Buermann to accept the Consent Items. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
McAllister’s: Mayor Young said that Monday, March 31, from 4:00 p.m. to close, McAllister’s will again be giving 15% of their receipts to the Ballwin Historical Commission.
Historical Commission Book Sale: Mayor Young said that the Ballwin Historical Commission will have a book sale and bake sale Saturday, March 29, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at The Point.
CITY ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
Health Insurance: City Administrator Kuntz said the city has been pro-active and aggressive to keep costs contained for the renewal of this coverage. In 2003, when United Healthcare proposed a 20% increase in the renewal rate, Ballwin switched to Blue Cross/Blue Shield and saved 4.7%. The following year, the premium was cut by 11.4%. In 2006, the increase was 7.4%.
City Administrator Kuntz said this year, the renewal quote from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield was a 23.6% increase. We budgeted 5%. Two other quotes were received. United Healthcare offered an increase of 29.4% over the current premium. Group Health Plan came in at a 19% increase. Anthem resubmitted its bid at 16.8%, which is still well above the budgeted amount. A deal was negotiated where the city will raise the individual deductible to $1,500. We will continue to pay the first $1,000 under the HRA and the employee will be responsible for the last $500. This will raise the deductible threshold to $1,500 for individual and $3,000 for employee plus-one and family coverage. As an example, the recommended plan will affect the employee that has a $10,000 experience; the city pays the first $1,000 under the single deductible, the employee will be responsible for the remaining $500 deductible and the insurance will cover the rest as it does with the current policy. He said this will reduce the renewal rate to a 13.5% increase instead of the original 16.8% increase.
City Administrator Kuntz recommended that the Board approve the Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan with the new deductible, which is the co-shared $1,500 and $3,000, and the city absorb through the existing budget structure, the entire 13.5%. This can be done due to vacancies and attrition. He said that this is be best deal we can find. Some cities are not this progressive in cost-sharing.
Alderman Buermann asked if we have health savings accounts plans. Human Resource Coordinator Morrison said not at this time. City Administrator Kuntz said that this could be reconsidered. Alderman Buermann said this is one way to cut down on the deductible. Alderman Suozzi said the contributions do not get taxed in that kind of plan. By IRS law, however, it won’t roll forward if not used. City Administrator Kuntz said there is a cost sharing increment at the deductible level. The City initially considered an HSA in the Fall before the renewal process; however the City did not have the money to fund the reimbursement arrangement.
Alderman Lembke asked what will this do to the average salary. City Administrator Kuntz said this will not affect all employees, only the users. Alderman Lembke said that some of the employees got a 3% salary raise, but because of the insurance increase, we are taking part of it back.
Human Resource Coordinator Morrison said that the employee does not have to meet the first $1,000 actual cost. This is not for regular doctor visits or prescriptions. Those are separate co-pays. This will not affect the average user. The co-pay is still $20.
City Administrator Kuntz said that until 2006, the co-pay was $10 for doctor visits. The $75 emergency co-pay was raised in 2007 to $100. The prescription tier plan was increased from $8, to $10, to $35 every year to keep the premium down and to share the cost-sharing of the benefit. Alderman Lembke said that pharmacies are figuring out ways to put prescriptions into higher tiers.
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to authorize staff to sign the contract with the 13.5% increase.
Alderman Robinson asked Human Resource Coordinator Morrison how will the increase affect employee morale. Human Resource Coordinator Morrison said that she assumes most would prefer to not have the monthly payment increase. If a deductible item occurred, hopefully the last $500 won’t be reached. After the last $500 is paid by the employee, then the health insurance covers the rest. The city will pay the first $2,000 per family. She thinks most would rather take the chance on a deductible expense than the guaranteed monthly rate expense. City Administrator Kuntz said that everybody pays under the monthly expense. The users pay under this plan.
Alderman Robinson asked what the increase is going to be to the employees’ contribution. Human Resource Coordinator Morrison said that if Ballwin covers the 13.5%, there will not be an increase in the monthly fee. The only increase will be if the expenses crosses the $2,000 for family or $1,000 for individual. Individuals will have an extra $500 if they max out the deductible reimbursement. If a family that has a hospitalization and a $3,000 deductible, the City covers the first $2,000 and the employee is responsible for the last $1,000.
A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result, and the motion passed.
Closed Session: City Administrator Kuntz said the closed session is requested for a personnel issue.
CITY ATTORNEY’S REPORT
Dura Seal Contract: City Attorney Jones said that he has had conversations with Tom Connelly, representing Dura Seal. He said that today, he received a letter in response of Mr. Connelly’s review of the bid packet. Mr. Connelly took the position that since Dura Seal was not listed among the entities that that were disqualified from bidding on government contracts (Debarment List) for failing to comply with prevailing wage laws, therefore, Ballwin could not rely upon a section of its contract that says that they would be disqualified.
City Attorney Jones said that he took a more expansive view of the contract. The notice that Ballwin sent out to the contractors, specifically advised them that the successful bidder shall comply with applicable State provisions concerning the payment of prevailing wages on Public Works projects. This is a different part of the bid package than the one that says we can decide to disqualify a bidder if they are listed among those that have been debarred. He said he pointed out to Mr. Connelly that he believed it was incumbent upon the contractor to point out the 4 or 5 prevailing wage disputes or complaints that have been submitted.
City Attorney Jones said he looked at the contractual basis and proceedings of this dispute. Following the Board meeting on February 11, the City of Ballwin sent a letter on February 14, indicating to Dura Seal that the City had awarded the Dura Seal the contract. He said the letter asked that Dura Seal return three copies of the contract signed, along with the Certificate of Insurance and appropriate bonds no later than March 7, 2008. He said he characterize this as an “offer”. At the Board meeting on February 25, the Board determined, for various reasons that were discussed in public, that the Board wished to rescind that offer. This was done by a letter to Dura Seal before the “offer” was accepted. He said an offer which had not been accepted can be rescinded.
City Attorney Jones said that Ballwin had a similar case in 1990 under a different wording in its bid package, which caused the City to change the bid package. There used to be a provision in the bid package that said that Ballwin had to notify a successful bidder of acceptance within 30 days. A company sued the City of Ballwin, and it was determined that our failure to provide that acceptance was not an acceptance at all. He said it seems to support the position that what Ballwin did on February 11 and the letter sent on February 14 was not an acceptance, but indeed an “offer”. He said this is supported by an appellate case from the Kansas City Court of Appeals and a Missouri Supreme Court case that says even though it’s been communicated that an offer is going to be held open to a certain date, as this was to March 7, 2008, if there is no separate consideration, if Ballwin has not received any additional consideration in order to leave the offer open until March 7, that offer can be rescinded before it is accepted. He said that even though it was stated in the letter that it would be left open until March 7, does not bind Ballwin unless additional consideration is received. He said Ballwin did not receive this.
City Attorney Jones said it is his opinion that Ballwin properly rescinded the offer and communicated that prior to receiving back the 3 signed contracts, certificate of insurance, and the bond. He said if the Board wants to stand on its previous decision rescinding that offer, it is legally defensive. No further action will be necessary by this Board. He said, if, however, the Board wishes to change its mind, this will have to be done with a motion, a second, and a vote. Appending this legal opinion, this contract was awarded to the second highest bidder. That took place on March 10. That vote already occurred. If the Board does not wish to take any further action, nothing further is needed. He said he will call Mr. Connley and notify him of the result.
City Attorney Jones said that there was a vote to award the contract following the rescission to the second highest bidder. City Administrator Kuntz said that that action has not yet been taken.
Alderman Lembke asked that since Ballwin did not sign the three contracts, that this is an offer rather than an extension of the contract. City Attorney Jones said he is not sure if it would have made any difference. As long as it was rescinded before it was returned to Ballwin, there was no “meeting of the minds”, and there could possibly have been a mistake wherein Ballwin did not have all of the information that we were entitled to at that time.
Alderman Robinson asked if this means that the Dura Seal matter is closed. The answer was yes.
Code Enforcement: Alderman Terbrock asked about the Board philosophy on Code Enforcement. He said he has received e-mails from residents who are frustrated with the code enforcement due to inconsistencies in the program. He suggested that the Inspectors step up incidental enforcement of code violations. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said the Board philosophy has been that compliance is more important than enforcement, such as giving people more time to make the correction instead of issuing a summons and going to court. If the individual has provided information that the compliance is in progress, more time may be necessary for completion. If the violation goes to court, the process takes even longer. He said that the level of aggressive enforcement is a man-hour issue because this will take away from the inspection schedule. He said that perhaps the Police Department and Public Works could be on the lookout for violations and then forward the information to Code Enforcement.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that the Code Enforcement Inspectors are not wearing blinders while they are traveling through Ballwin for scheduled inspections. They are always on the lookout for violations but, on the other hand, they are not doing regular patrols in all areas. Some streets will be driven frequently and others will not, depending on the scheduled inspections. He said that most complaints are anonymous. If a non-violation is the result of the investigation, it’s impossible to contact the source for more information or to give an update. As a result, it can appear that the City has ignored the issue and the complaint.
City Administrator Kuntz said that the enforcement philosophy can change with the Board because different individuals have different issues and priorities. The result is re-activity vs. pro-activity. He proposed that this be discussed in a work session with Ellisville in July, or a committee be assigned to review this issue. Staff doesn’t know whether to bring to the Board initiatives to create tools to deal with a problem, or to wait for resident complaints to show the need for the tool. He said that some residents feel that they can do anything they want. He said that this is a subject that shapes the public perception of the quality of life and the preservation of property values.
Alderman Buermann said that the Board changes every year. The Inspectors should not be expected to act upon the whims of a specific Board at that time. City Administrator Kuntz said that the philosophy that staff is current using is based on 15 years of Board direction.
Alderman Robinson said that there are regularly tall grass violations. The resident receives a 10-day notice of violation letter. If the grass is not cut after 10 days, they receive a 5-day notice. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that he believes this process is required by State law. Alderman Robinson said that throughout the City, there are repeat offenders who do not cut their grass. He suggested that a fine is issued immediately with the first citation and must appear in court. If the grass is not cut in 10 days, another fine and citation is imposed. After the second 10 days, the City cuts the grass and the offending resident is charged. He wants a thorough review of the options available to Ballwin to speed up enforcement of these kinds of violations.
Alderman Lembke suggested that an ordinance be provided to the offenders, in addition to the citation to appear in court. Alderman Fleming said that the Inspectors are heavily scheduled and do not have time to do extensive patrol for other violations. He said enforcement has to be complaint driven to some extent because the manpower constraints are limited. He asked if the inspection schedule could be set up in a different way to address this issue. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that patrol time could be scheduled, but inspections will take longer to schedule because time slots will have been reserved.
Alderman Pogue said he is also concerned about repeat offenders. After one notice, they may come into compliance, or they wait until the maximum time, then comply. They repeat the same violation over and over again and continue playing a game. He said he would like to eliminate this problem.
Alderman Buermann asked if there is a way that the Police Department could report various violations during their daily patrol routine. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that this would be helpful since the police officers are daily traveling through the entire city. The Code Enforcement Inspectors do not travel through the entire city on a daily basis because they are on pre-scheduled appointments. He said that the Public Works personnel might also assist with reports to the Code Enforcement Department about observed violations.
City Administrator Kuntz asked if the Board is leaning toward a pro-active, and not just a re-active, enforcement program. Alderman Fleming said he supports a pro-active approach, but there are some logical constraints. Alderman Robinson said that he is not concerned about a pro-active approach overall. He is mostly concerned about the repeat offenders. He asked that City Attorney Jones review this matter, and inform the Board on the State restrictions so that Mr. Portwood, Mr. Loudon or Mr. St. Onge to help with these kinds of problems.
City Attorney Jones said that there are State statutes concerning grass and derelict and unlicensed vehicles. There are other statutes concerning health hazards. City Administrator Kuntz asked that City Attorney Jones review the fine structure in lieu of the continuance fees for courts. Alderman Lembke agreed.
Open Developments: Alderman Terbrock said that the orange fencing and eroding dirt without grass in developments is very unsightly. He asked if the appearance could be improved with grass instead of bare dirt. City Administrator Kuntz said that a standard could be set that creates time limits and requires the posting of escrows to assure such work. None of this will address existing conditions. This would have to apply to future developments. Changes of ownership at times adds to the problem. City Attorney Jones said that this is partially affected by the escrow agreement and the City’s ability to forfeit a performance bond.
Alderman Terbrock asked when a bank takes over a property, since this is a different owner, does the property fall under the same rules. City Attorney Jones said that sometimes the bank can become the successor developer, or a new developer may be found, but the original approvals cannot be changed without the City’s approval.
Arch Grounds – Municipal League: Alderman Terbrock said said that the Board has been represented by the Mayor at a Municipal League Meeting regarding the proposed renovation of the Arch grounds. He said the Danforth Foundation did a study to get a large backing on this project because the U.S. Government will have to agree to turn the property over to the City for revitalization. He said that 20 cities voted for the endorsement. There was one lone descent. It was from Mayor Young. He said the newspaper quote was “I don’t know that everyone in Ballwin would totally support this, based on a one-time report.” Alderman Terbrock said that this statement was made by Mayor Young without any input from this Board. He said that this created another negative article in the newspaper about Ballwin.
Mayor Young said that if this Board had seen what is proposed, he believes that it would not have authorized a favorable vote. He said he has been to the site. He said he asked for the issue to be held over to allow all of the city representatives to consult with their Boards, bring the data back for another meeting, and let them make a decision before something was done. He said a hasty decision should not be made on something of that magnitude. No one in the room knew what was being presented until that evening. He said that the Board members would have had to be present at this session to see and know what was being discussed in order to fully understand. Mayor Young said that he is sure he did the right thing based on what was going on at that time.
Alderman Pogue said that instead of a hasty negative recommendation, no statement should have been made. He said no statement would have been better than a negative statement. Alderman Terbrock said that Mayor Young was the only one who had a negative statement.
Mayor Young said that he has talked to residents and designers of similar property and they have all agreed that this should never have been done without a chance to attend another meeting with further review. This issue was thrown in at the last minute. He said this is similar to the bridge situation which was done in 20 minutes. The whole picture was not considered. Alderman Terbrock said that Mayor Young was not present to know about the discussions when he made that decision. Alderman Terbrock said in that situation, he did not make a lone quote for the whole Municipal League in the newspaper, representing Ballwin and giving another negative statement. Mayor Young said “if you don’t like it, get off your duff and go the meetings”. Alderman Terbrock said that he does not have time because he has a young child to take care of and a business to run. He said he does not sit at home and worry about this all day long like Mayor Young does. Alderman Terbrock said to Mayor Young, “you run your mouth and run the city down and put everybody in a bad position without taking us into mind.”
Alderman Robinson said to Mayor Young, “in these discussions, please try to refrain of negative comments specifically directed to a fellow member of this Board relating to the matter that is not related in any way to the subject being discussed. Telling someone that they need to get off their duff and do something is a very negative comment directed at a fellow member of the Board. It’s not treating them with the respect that they deserve. All of the members of this Board work very hard at their jobs. I ask you to keep that in mind.” Mayor Young said “they should keep it in mind too.” Alderman Robinson asked, “why do you always have to shoot back with something”? Mayor Young said he is being chastised for something when he was there and the Board was not there. Alderman Terbrock said that it also hurts people who were there. Mayor Young said this is wrong.
House Bill No. 2250: Alderman Fleming said at the last meeting the Board discussed taking positions on pending State legislation that might adversely affect Ballwin. He said that House Bill No. 2250 is a Super Sales Tax Holiday. He suggested that action be taken because it has been recommended as a do pass vote by the House Ways and Means Committee. He said that this bill provides a sales tax holiday for energy efficient appliances up to $1,200. The bill was initially called the “Show Me Green Tax Holiday Act”. The original Bill has been amended to include a 3-day (June 27-29) state and local tax holiday on any purchase of up to $600 per item. There is no opt out for municipalities for this. He said in the past, he voted for the sales tax holidays for the education weekend. He said that this version is bad for Ballwin’s revenue. Someone could buy a couch, a TV, etc. at up to $600 per item with no sales tax at all. He believes that a local government opt out provision is needed. The opt out is included in the $1,200 part, but not on the $600 part. Alderman Suozzi said that originally the opt out was discussed.
Alderman Fleming suggested that City Administrator Kuntz draft a letter from the Board requesting the opt out, or opposing this in general and that it be sent to the Representatives who cover the Ballwin area. He said the Ballwin citizens are being asked to approve the property tax because of Ballwin’s revenue situation. This is an example of the State getting into Ballwin’s revenue stream. He said in some cases, Jefferson City is taking revenue away from Ballwin.
Alderman Lembke said the bill states: “all retail of any product having a selling price of $600 or less per product”. He said that if someone wanted to buy a sofa for $595, two side chairs for $495 each, carpeting, etc., they could purchase all of this without paying sales tax. He said that this is a horrible bill.
Alderman Suozzi said that the merchants will sell to that idea. Alderman Terbrock asked how does this benefit the State. Alderman Suozzi said it doesn’t – it’s a political move.
City Administrator Kuntz said that he will continue to provide a list of upcoming legislation.
Mayor Young said that he recently attended an event where he asked some of the House members their opinion of this bill. He said that some of them didn’t even think about the fact that it had a negative impact on municipal sales tax. He told them at the opt out should be included.
The Board convened in closed session at 8:29 p.m.
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson and seconded by Alderman Fleming to adjourn the closed session. A roll call vote was taken with a unanimous result, and the closed session was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.
The Board reconvened in open session at 8:56 p.m.
City Administrator Kuntz presented the idea of a Management Analyst position. Alderman Fleming believes that this would be useful to the organization, but it may be more than any one person can do. He suggested refining and reducing the job description. He said a private contract may be a better way to accomplish the efficiency analysis. City Administrator Kuntz said he is concerned about morale implications of private a private outreach doing this kind of a study. Alderman Fleming said it will be too hard to work with all four departments.
City Administrator Kuntz said the position was envisioned to rotate through all departments. Alderman Lembke asked what will Ballwin do if the tax does not pass. Staff is swamped. Alderman Buermann asked if the job description can be pared down to a more doable list. Alderman Suozzi said the person will be charged with understanding the City’s operation and then bringing a new perspective. Alderman Lembke asked if the Board likes the concept. Alderman Fleming said this needs to pay its own way. He asked if this person will have credibility with senior staff?
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Robinson to authorize the position’s creation, but with a reduced and refined job description.
The motion was amended by Alderman Buermann to fund the position without a personnel budget change. Alderman Lembke accepted the amendment. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Adjourn: A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to adjourn the open session. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
WALTER S. YOUNG, MAYOR
ROBERT A. KUNTZ, CITY ADMINISTRATOR