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 Work Session
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN WORK SESSION
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Young at 7:00 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
Mayor Young announced that since this is a Work Session, no citizen comments will be accepted at this session. He asked that the Board consider limiting the meeting to 2 hours with a vote to consider adjourning at 9:00 p.m.
Alderman Fleming asked if the Board will accept a pledge to cover any overage from the Trustees. Alderman Robinson asked if Ballwin should cover an overage. Alderman Terbrock does not want to give up any Ward 1 funding to cover an overage in this project. City Administrator Kuntz said that the decision on this would come after 2008 capital expenditures were completed. He said the 10% estimate for poor slabs is probably inadequate. It may be as high as 40%. City Engineer Kramer said that a Krupp representative said that the bid was no longer valid.
Meadowbrook Trustee, Jack Hanley, said that he spoke with a Krupp representative who said that they would do a section at a time to determine slab condition. He said that a financial disaster could be avoided by doing what they can with the funds that are available.
Alderman Lembke asked how the rest of the Meadowbrook streets will eventually be completed. Mr. Hanley said they are willing to amend the petition accordingly based on the available funds. Alderman Pogue asked if the resolution can be prepared as not-to-exceed, based on the dollar amount. City Attorney Jones said that State law only allows 25% increase of the original estimated amount. City Engineer Kramer said there is no assurance that Krupp will be the low bidder. He said the specifications could be written to get the work done as desired, such as in pieces.
Alderman Robinson suggested bidding out the work to get a valid price. City Administrator Kuntz recommended acquiring informal price quotes rather than going through the whole bid process. Alderman Fleming said that going out to bid is no worse than getting informal price quotes and then bidding later. Alderman Boerner said that informal price quotes would indicate a warning that the project is way out of reach and not doable.
City Engineer Kramer said that he did not believe a contractor would be able to complete 2 ½ miles of roadway repaired and overlayed, by the end of the 2008 construction season.
A motion was made by Alderman Pogue and seconded by Alderman Lembke to have staff get informal price proposals on this project. Alderman Fleming asked how much work can be done with the current funds. Alderman Pogue said he would like some time frames built into the bids. The project may have to be completed in 2009.
Alderman Lembke said that roadwork cost is down in Missouri. This might be an opportunity to get a good price and quick work even with increasing material and fuel costs.
A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
City Administrator Kuntz presented the information contained in the meeting materials as follows:
Utility Tax: Increasing the utility tax to 7% would bring in about $700,000 per year. This revenue has historically been pledged to the operating budget.
1/4 Cent Sales Tax: This tax would require voter approval. If approved, it would generate about $1 million annually. Mayor Young stated that Bed, Bath & Beyond had filed for bankruptcy. Alderman Pogue gave correction that this is incorrect – A different company has filed bankruptcy.
Rollback: A tax with a built-in reduction still involves selling a tax. The tax would roll back as future bonds are paid off.
Franchising: There are some possibilities to sell services to other cities. The options available are limited and tend to be delicate arrangements that easily fall apart.
Fees: Staff has been aggressive with this approach. There are many costs that cannot be recovered in the course of doing business.
Surplus Properties: Sale of surplus properties is pursued but the market is weak and options are limited.
Personnel Reductions: Personnel reductions will have a significant impact on service quality or will equal costs if privatization is used. This sacrifices accountability. Staff has been reduced by 8 full-time positions, and annual salary increases are less than the cost of living index. Essential services cannot be retained if significant reductions are put in place.
Vehicles: Costs could be minimized by utilizing State bids. Keeping cars longer only increases repair costs and reduces resale value.
Leaves: The program should be done well or not do it at all. Providing this service with cut backs generates many resident phone calls with complaints.
Street Lights: Shutting off the lights would be a difficult task and hard to do.
Alderman Robinson asked, could half of the lights be shut off and keep the lights on at intersections and major roadways. He said he needs more information on the Ameren tariff.
Alderman Lembke said in 1983, Union Electric was able to turn off lights with ease. Alderman Pogue said he is afraid to turn off the street lights because this could result in dangerous conditions. He believes that any cuts should come from somewhere else.
Alderman Robinson said that nothing would prohibit subdivisions from taking over their own street lights.
Other Reductions: City Administrator Kuntz said that if the no vote on Proposition B is to be seen as a “tighten your belt” mandate, there are several services that can be suspended:
Leasing and Rental: This may make sense for some high cost / high maintenance equipment, but does not result in much of a lifetime cost advantage for less expensive equipment.
City Administrator Kuntz said that most cost-cutting options will not provide enough money resulting in a major impact on capital streets expenditures. He said that the annual budget can be balanced, but Capital funds will not increase and morale will suffer. Other options will only partially help.
Alderman Fleming said that the Manchester Road work and expenses will probably be substantial and we need to make these improvements to get the Manchester Road corridor turned around.
Alderman Suozzi said that Ballwin needs to diversify its revenue base in order to move forward and be insulated from the ups and down of the retail economy. This will also help with the bond ratings fee.
Alderman Lembke asked if the policy for curb-to-curb snow plowing could be changed. He said that perhaps Ballwin should discontinue trimming street trees, and instead, the adjoining homeowner should be responsible for the tree trimming. He suggested charging for certain police services, especially for non-residents. Also, yard waste pickup could be taken eliminated from the trash contract.
Alderman Terbrock said that he is hesitant to cut street lights due to safety. He agrees with cutting leaf collection, brush pickup, geese control, and mosquito fogging, and reducing snow plowing. He asked if inspections are money losers and would eliminating this program be beneficial. He said he supports any new revenue generator that is acceptable to the community.
Alderman Pogue said that in the past, 52% of sales tax revenues comes from non-residents. He asked if this is still correct. City Administrator Kuntz said no. Regional retail sales are moving away, creating the need to diversify revenues.
Alderman Buermann said that he has not heard anything new during this work session. He said that reductions will not generate the needed funds. He is opposed to cutting street lights, and said that perhaps $3 million is too high of a target for street repair since Proposition B failed. The utility tax is the cushion to offset the continued decrease in sales taxes. He asked for a report on the amount of dollars associated with the proposed service cuts.
Alderman Suozzi said she believes that street lights can be cut. Nothing is so sacred or special to not be cut. Idle, minor cuts will not make a substantial difference. She said the Board has to follow through with a course of action. The only solution to keep Ballwin as we know it is to push more for the needed property tax. She said the issue should be put on the ballot again. 26% of the voters is not a mandate. She said that maybe a sunset provision on a tax is the best solution.
Alderman Fleming said that the utility tax increase should be implemented. He said he will also support other tax initiatives to gather citizen support. He believes that a balanced budget can be maintained without cutting any of the offered programs. The Board should decide what to cut annually. He suggested looking closely at fees for services.
Alderman Robinson said that the underlying problem is what Ballwin needs to maintain the infrastructure. He said the minimum is $3 million per year. The voters said no property tax. He said there are 3 major services to provide: 1) Parks [has funding]; 2) Police; 3) Infrastructure. He said that small cuts are not the way to address the problem. A major solution is needed. He does not see cutting services as punitive. The message is clear: Live within the budget and get the streets fixed.
Alderman Lembke said that 23% voter turn out is not good, and 16% of the voters defeated the property tax. This is not a mandate. Ballwin is a top quality community. The proposed cuts are not enough. He supports the utility tax increase. He said the residents need to be convinced of the need for more revenue. He also supports a sales tax increase.
Alderman Boerner said that he believes cutting services would be viewed as punitive, and that the utility tax should be increased. He said that people will support a property tax, maybe smaller, if they are properly informed.
Mayor Young said that he wants to increase the utility tax. He said that if we had passed the utility tax by legislation per his recommendation in early 2006, we would have collected about $1.4 million. The residents have told us they would prefer this over a property tax (Prop B). He also believes a ¼ percent sales tax should be placed on the ballot. Maybe these taxes with a smaller property tax amount would be better solution. Snow removal could be cut back by waiting until the snows comes instead of the forecast for snow. Our police officers could monitor the snow fall and decide when the public works should start the snow removal process. This is how Ellisville approaches this problem. This would also cut back on the salt which is hurting the streets. The Mayor said that the city should fund the leaf collection so that the project can be done correctly or it should not be done at all (per Bob Kuntz recommendation). He disagrees with the street lights being turned off as he feels that it would be a safety issue. It would be a big mistake, beside you can’t put the responsibility to pay for them back on the subdivisions, because many places in the city do not have subdivision organizations. Mayor Young believes that the property tax should be put on the ballot, but it needs a lot of lead time to properly inform the people of the serious need. He recommended that it be placed on the ballot during the April 2009 time frame. He would like to postpone any non-essential expenditure until late this year. He asked what is the expectation for employees retiring in the next 5 years. As for the Geese program, some of the subdivisions who use it are very happy and would like to have a chance to be involved with the dog process as well.
Mayor Young said in December, 2006, he suggested the possibility of hiring St. Louis County to provide police services. He said that joining with other cities might be a less expensive way to provide certain services. He said he supports the property tax, but believes that 40 cents per $100 of assessed valuation is too much.
Alderman Suozzi asked, at this point in time, what is the direction of the Board? There still is no unified direction. City Administrator Kuntz said that this will be on a future agenda for additional consideration and strategy formulation.
Alderman Fleming said that a decision should be made tonight. Alderman Boerner agreed that a decision on revenue and expense steps needs to be made immediately.
Alderman Terbrock asked if these decisions should be made at a work session without the City Attorney present.
Alderman Suozzi said this should be a blended approach with both cuts and new revenue.
Alderman Fleming asked if the Board will be prepared to make these decisions at the Board meeting on June 9.
Mayor Young said that most of the Board does not support expenditure changes.
Alderman Robinson said that there has been no advancement on these issues tonight, nor will there be in 5 years. Alderman Terbrock suggested taking a vote on all of the suggestions at the June 9 Board meeting.
Adjourn: A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to adjourn. A voice vote was taken with the following result: Aye: Pogue, Terbrock, Buermann, Suozzi, Boerner. Nay: Lembke, Fleming, Robinson. The motion passed by a vote of 5 – 3. The Work Session adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
WALTER S. YOUNG, MAYOR
ROBERT A. KUNTZ, CITY ADMINISTRATOR
May 19, 2008 – WORK SESSION