Mayor Young explained that the purpose of the Town Hall Meeting is to give the audience the opportunity to address the Board on any topic. He thanked Pastor Tim McDonnell, of the West Springs Church, for allowing the City of Ballwin to hold the Town Hall meeting at this location.
Connie Oster, 743 Stoney Creek Drive: She thanked the City of Ballwin for installing sidewalks along Manchester Road. She is worried about safety in the crosswalks on New Ballwin Road. She said that drivers do not yield to pedestrians. She requested new signage and striping.
Mayor Young asked if a study has been done that has not been acted on. City Administrator Kuntz said we took several recommendations that were made by the consultant engineer, including signage and striping.
Ms. Oster suggested a pedestrian activated light to assist the pedestrians. This will alert the drivers that someone is in the crosswalk. Police Chief Biederman said that a number of studies have been conducted regarding traffic control along New Ballwin Road and tickets were issued. He said they have tried to instruct children in the schools to educate about the correct way to use the crosswalks. People have to be in the crosswalk, not at the crosswalk, for a car to stop.
Alderman Suozzi said that motorists are not fully aware of what the rule is and, therefore, they are not obeying the rule. Alderman Gatton said that the problem is the uneducated motorist and the uneducated pedestrian. Both have created the problem.
Lisa Schwarz, 15467 Clayton Road, owner of Charlotte’s Rib BBQ: Ms. Schwarz said she has a problem with the temporary removal of her permanent signage during the Clayton Road construction. She asked if Ballwin will do anything to allow additional temporary signage for them to survive.
Mayor Young said that the plaza owners are not interested in assisting their tenants with temporary signage. City Administrator Kuntz said that Staff is aware of the issue and asked MoDOT to meet with store owners. He said there are similar issues with emergency service provision. Ms. Schwarz said she understands that MoDOT will help, but she wants to be able to place signs at locations remote from their location.
Mayor Young asked for flexibility to allow the business owners to put out signs during this construction period so that people know that they are still in business. City Administrator Kuntz promised that attempting to help the business owners will not be forgotten.
Jim Sharp, 467 Governor Ct.: Mr. Sharp said he believes that Ballwin should provide a defined benefit plan for the employees’ pension. This will help keep good employees and the cost will be less. He said city employees should be rewarded with the finest plan that they can count on so that they can plan for their future.
City Administrator Kuntz said that staff will look at the options. He said that part of the plan is dictated by the State of Missouri and we have no discretion.
Tammy Litzinger, 216 Jasmin Park Ct., Park Estates Trustee: Ms. Litzinger said that the residents are opposed to the stub street in Chavanel Subdivision.
Frank Karr, 457 Westglen Village Dr., Chairman of the Ballwin Strategic Planning Commission: Mr. Karr invited the Board members to address the Commission about their thoughts for the future of Ballwin. He said the commission consists of 12 members. The first meeting is scheduled for November 21. He said Mr. Kuntz will give a summary of the 1997 community planning report and how well the city has performed. The second meeting will be on December 19 at the Ballwin Golf Club. He invited the Aldermen to make presentations on where they see their ward and the city going in the next 10-20 years.
Mayor Young said that this is an enthusiastic group of people that are going to be working on this commission.
Steve Durst, 200 Barker: Mr. Durst said he was given the impression that Chavenel Subdivision had options under the code. He asked if this subdivision could be built without the stub street. City Attorney Lucchesi said that the present code requires a stub street.
Mayor Young said that when the leaves are put in the street at the curb, when it rains, the leaves go into the storm sewer and has to be cleaned out.
City Administrator Kuntz said that he can’t say that the city will save $50,000 if we stop leaf collection. It is not without cost.
Alderman Robinson said the discussion related to leaf collection is not as simple as isolating one service and trying to determine the cost. He said there is a policy and management philosophy issue for the city. If we decide that we are going to remove ourselves and eliminate non-essential services, this will be a policy shift. He said that leaf collection is a non-essential service and is tied in with snow removal, which is also a non-essential service. These services use the same capital, the same trucks, and workers. We, as a city, are going to have to decide if we are willing to pay more in taxes, or get out of providing non-essential services. He said it’s either that the city gets out of providing these non-essential services such as leaf collection and snow removal, or we stop doing street improvements. Alderman Robinson said that last year in the Citizen Survey, people were asked what service should we take out, or would you rather have us keep the service. As predicted, the survey results was don’t cut any services and don’t raise taxes. He said on any given year, four aldermen are running for re-election, so they don’t want to vote to cut the services or raise taxes. He said we are going to have a budget crisis, we’re not going to borrow money, or start cutting off bits and pieces. Just cutting the leaf collection is not going to save that much because we will still be keeping the workers and equipment. He said the voters are going to have to make a decision. Do we want to maintain Ballwin as a Triple A city with the best services and high property values, or let it go.
Alderman Buermann said that the real property tax in Ballwin is zero. He said a lot of people don’t understand this. When they receive a bill and see Ballwin on it, they think we are collecting taxes on this.
Alderman Gatton said we have cut services in the past. Until about two years ago, the City paid for recycling. We stopped doing that, and that gave the City ¼ of one million dollars per year to spend on other things, which we chose to spend on street repairs. He said that sales tax is the primary source of revenue for Ballwin. We only have X amount of dollars. That only allows us to do certain things. If it doesn’t allow us to do leaf collection and snow removal, then that’s the way it has to be. The other alternative is for the citizens to pay more to retain the services.
Alderman Lembke said that fuel is a variable cost that has been included. There will be other duties for the crews to do if they are not picking up leaves or doing snow plowing. He said that right now, our contract with Allied Waste provides us with 50 large dumpsters at no cost. If you take just the variable cost of leaf pickup, that’s about $7 per household per year. He said we are anticipating that Allied Waste is not going to give the 50 dumpsters next year, and it will cost close to $80,000 in variable cost, which will be $17 per household. If you consider all of the fixed costs such as overhead, benefits, employees, with the variable costs, you come up with a number of around $350,000 - $360,000, then it becomes about $34 per household per year.
Paul Morgan: He said he is concerned about the cost of maintaining street trees.
Alderman Lembke explained the situation that Ballwin faces concerning the expected costs for tree removal and maintenance. He said out of the $28,000 for the inventory, we are getting a $10,000 grant, so it is costing the City of Ballwin $18,000. He said the trees in the right-of-way are owned by the City of Ballwin. At this time, we have no record of what the trees are, how big they are, are they diseased, mature, or anything. We cannot forecast or for maintenance and removal. He said we have an unknown out there. As we go forward, there are going to be tighter budgets. The City needs to know all of this information so that we have better numbers from a budgetary perspective. He said if we budget $20,000 for tree removal, and it is a normal year without a lot of storms, and a lot of trees become diseased, costing $40,000 for removal, what are we going to cut in order to pay for this? The Board is asking and has approved the spending of the $18,000 to find out what we have as an asset.
There were no further comments from the audience for the Board, and the Town Hall meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.
Walter S. Young, Mayor
Robert A. Kuntz, City Administrator