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
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
August 25, 2008
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Young at 7:12 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
BILL # 3545 - AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE ISSUANCE, SALE, AND DELIVERY OF $3,695,000 PRINCIPAL AMOUNT OF GENERAL OBLIGATION REFUNDING BONDS, SERIES 2008, OF THE CITY OF BALLWIN, MISSOURI; PRE-SCRIBING THE FORM AND DETAILS OF SAID BONDS; PROVIDING FOR THE LEVY AND COLLECTION OF AN ANNUAL TAX FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAYING THE PRINCIPAL OF AND INTEREST ON SAID BONDS AS THEY BECOME DUE; AND AUTHORIZING CERTAIN OTHER DOCUMENTS AND ACTIONS IN CONNECTION THEREWITH.
Laura Radcliff, with Stifel Nicolaus, said that on this date, refunding bonds were sold to refund the Series 1998 General Obligation Bonds, which had refunded the 1992 General Obligation Bonds. She said that Ballwin has a Aa2 rating. Bond insurance almost doesn’t exist any longer. AAA bonds are rare. Aa2 is considered the new high grade. She said that Moody’s noted that there is sound fiscal management in Ballwin but that there is not a diverse revenue source. Sales tax is the biggest revenue source. Moody’s gave positive recognition for diversifying and increasing the utility tax. She said that $122,000 in savings was obtained out of the transaction. She said that this transaction was incredibly well-received in the marketplace.
Ms. Radcliff said that with investment grade, anything below Baa is below investment grade. The progression is Baa 1, 2, 3; A1, 2, 3; Aa1, 2, 3. She said that the Aa1 rating is slightly better than Aa2. Anything in the Aa category is a very good rating. The rating is based on the wealth index, economics, demographics, fiscal management, diversity of revenue sources, etc. She said that in St. Louis County, the Aaa ratings are the Ladue School District and St. Louis County. The State of Missouri is also Aaa. She said that Chesterfield has a Aa rating. She said that in order for Ballwin to increase its rating, it will most likely take a property tax to do this no matter how successful the sales tax revenues may be. She said that sales tax reliance is scary in the ratings because the economy could go into a downturn. Fund balance is also important. For a Aaa rating, Ballwin would have to be a much larger city in acreage or population. The Moody ratings consider the previous annexations to Ballwin are positives. She said that there is a possibility that all municipalities will be bumped up in the ratings because relative to corporations, the municipal balance sheet is stronger.
A motion was made by Alderman Suozzi and seconded by Alderman Pogue for a first reading of Bill No. 3545. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3545 was read for the first time.
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Buermann for a second reading of Bill No. 3545. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3545 was read for the second time.
A roll call was taken for passage and approval of Bill No. 3545 with the following results:
A motion was made by Alderman Pogue and seconded by Alderman Robinson for a first reading of Bill No. 3546. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3546 was read for the first time.
City Attorney Jones said that setting the rate at zero at this time, the rate is being set for any taxes that would have been collected in 2009 and again in 2010 due to a re-assessment year in between. Senate Bill 711 prohibits adjusting the rate in a reassessment year; however, if a property tax is presented to the voters again and a different rate is approved by the voters, this will override the provisions of Senate Bill 711.
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson and seconded by Alderman Buermann for a second reading of Bill No. 3546. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3546 was read for the second time.
A roll call was taken for passage and approval of Bill No. 3546 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. Salt (See City Administrator’s Report for discussion)
Item A: City Administrator Kuntz requested that Item A be removed for further discussion. The Board agreed.
Item C: Alderman Boerner asked if the GASB 45 ($5,000) is on an annual basis or for the next three years. City Administrator Kuntz said this will be authorized for one year, but does not have to be approved on an annual basis. Alderman Boerner asked that this item be held for further discussion.
A motion was made by Alderman Pogue and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to accept Consent Item B. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
CITY ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
Salt: City Administrator Kuntz recommended a blended purchase approach for salt.
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Buermann that $49,000 covers this year’s budget and depletes the amount, and $75,000 is to be appropriated for 2009. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Alderman Fleming asked about the use of salt brine. City Engineer Kramer said that the use of salt brine will potentially decrease employee overtime. The streets can be sprayed with salt brine during regular work hours instead of overtime. This will also save on the use of rock salt. The equipment cost is approximately $30,000 plus storage tanks.
Street Lights: City Administrator Kuntz said due to Ameren’s rate increase, the street light cost increased from $300,000 to $420,000. This information was provided to the voters prior to the April election. One suggestion to deal with the cost increase is to initiate an Intersection / Cul-de-sac plan. This will identify the locations where lighting could be eliminated or could be paid for by a subdivision. Intersections and cul-de-sacs would retain street lighting, but eliminate the lights in between. Ameren has agreed to eliminate the light fixtures at no overtime cost. The power would initially be disconnected, and the poles and fixtures would be eliminated later. There are 1,800 residential street lights. He said that this could decrease the street lights bill to approximately $192,000.
Alderman Suozzi said that fixtures should be converted to something less expensive to operate. There are no subdivision associations to take over the lights in many areas. She suggested that the selected lights be turned off for a period of time, but that the ability be retained to turn the lights back on when finances improve. The poles should not be completely removed.
City Administrator Kuntz said that the fixtures have been in service for over 10 years and are extremely dated and inefficient. He said that Ameren will not convert to the LED standard. He said he would like to take out the old lights and use new technology when it comes available.
Alderman Terbrock said that Ameren is in the business of selling electricity and not to provide an alternate means for residents to save money on their electric bills. He said that if the poles are removed, Ballwin can initiate an alternate plan of its own for updated poles and fixtures with solar lighting. He said that Ameren is not going to cut their profits to help Ballwin.
Alderman Lembke said that Ameren has admitted that the poles and fixtures that are 10 + years old are fully paid for and amortized. He said that Ameren is now trimming trees and should have been doing this in previous years. They are paying a high salary to a retired newscaster as their public relations person. They are spending tons of money telling people how great they are by trimming trees. He said that instead of asking for more money to build another nuclear reactor, they should be looking for ways to save energy within the communities. He said that this cannot be solved at the local level. He said that there’s something wrong when a monopoly is able to do this to cities. There are smaller cities that don’t have the resources that Ballwin has and have the same budgetary problems. AmerenUE is saying that their tariffs allow them to do this and they will continue. He said he is in full support of the street light reduction plan. He suggested that this be discussed in a committee format. If Ballwin and other communities cut their bills in half, Ameren will have to participate in some practical applications.
Alderman Boerner said that he agrees to have a committee evaluate the whole program. He said the Board does not have enough information to make a decision at this time.
Alderman Robinson said that staff is asking for approval to look into the next step. He said that he does not believe that Ballwin is bound to Ameren’s restrictive agreement. He said that no party is going to be obligated to sign a contract where the leasing of the poles have exhausted the value of the poles. He said that we are being charged for something that has no value. Ballwin has to force this issue. Their letter implies that we have a good idea, but they are not going to do anything about this, so continue mailing checks to them.
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson and seconded by Alderman Lembke for staff to proceed to look into this issue immediately.
Alderman Boerner asked for clarification of “look into this issue”. Does this mean turning off the lights? Alderman Robinson said yes and for staff to discuss the options. City Administrator Kuntz said that he wants to say that the Board has directed staff to proceed with this option. A sample quadrant will be presented to Ameren. Ameren’s response will be reviewed.
Alderman Lembke said that the ideal situation is to tell AmerenUE that every light pole that is more than 10 years old, is already amortized. We will pay $1 a light pole, turn them over to Ballwin, and Ballwin will pay $4.50 or whatever the actual electricity is, and we will cut our budget by approximately 60% - 80%. Ballwin will then be responsible for the poles and light bulbs.
Alderman Robinson said he does not believe that Ameren will send out crews to take down poles. He said that staff needs direction on this issue.
Mayor Young said he would like the Public Health & Safety Committee to evaluate the program.
Alderman Lembke said that in the mid to early 1980’s, there were two trustees in Westglen Village South who were successful in getting AmerenUE to turn off 1/3 of the lights for one month. After 3 days, Ameren pleaded to turn the lights back on because the people complained. He said that Ameren can do this. The people’s vote said that we should do what we can with the funds that we have. He said the city should not continue to spend almost $1/2 million on lights that we are paying way too much money for that Ameren should be forced to turn those lights over or stop charging per month for something that was paid for 10 or 20 years ago. He said that the only way to get Ameren to do this is to turn off the lights. He said that there are more complaints about street repairs. This cannot be done without reducing the utility bill. He said that AmerenUE will now allow us to keep all of the lights for a much lower rate. The first city that does this, there will be 93 that follows. He said it’s almost illegal, in his opinion, what AmerenUE is doing by making us continue to pay for equipment that is obsolete and paid for years ago.
Alderman Pogue asked Chief Schicker about the reduction in street lights related to safety. Chief Schicker said that most of the crime that occurs is by error of residents not securing their cars or garage doors. He said that street lights do not impact this. He said that street lights actually give more opportunity to find an open garage door. City Administrator Kuntz said that the police will be included in the analysis before specific lights are eliminated. Police Chief Schicker said that a major concern is that without proper street lighting, a motorist, bicyclist or pedestrian may not be able to see a hazard or the curb. Alderman Buermann said that there is a safety concern in subdivisions that don’t have sidewalks.
Alderman Boerner said that we should present to AmerenUE a plan that we would like to see implemented. If the plan is ignored, then drastic action can be taken by Ballwin in order to reduce costs. City Administrator Kuntz said that he has presented three proposals to Ameren. Ameren’s response was that they are not considering alternate energy source at this time, their tariffs do not permit nor is there any interest in selling the system to the City, and they are not interested in alternate technology. He said Ameren is acutely aware of our cost concerns. One response he received was that since the utility tax is increased to 7%, there should be more than enough to pay for the increased cost of lights. He said that the intersection / cul-de-sac plan is an option to do something. He received a preliminary indication that this is feasible.
Mayor Young asked if this matter could be presented to the Municipal League as a joint effort. City Administrator Kuntz said that Chesterfield and Wildwood don’t provide street lighting, and none of our neighboring cities provide the amount of street lights that Ballwin does.
Motion re-stated: Alderman Robinson re-stated his motion as follows: The motion is to direct staff to proceed with discussions with AmerenUE regarding utilization of the limited analysis on a city-wide basis, which is to turn off the lights that are mid-block and leave the intersection and cul-de-sac lighting on. A voice vote was taken with the following result: Aye: Buermann, Fleming, Robinson, Boerner, Lembke, Pogue, Terbrock, Suozzi. The motion was unanimously approved.
Government Center Rental: City Administrator Kuntz said this is a proposal to lease the space at the Government Center that was formally occupied by the West County Chamber of Commerce for office purposes, under the same terms and conditions. The space is 227 square feet and the rent is $525 per month.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to authorize execution of the lease agreement at the same rate and square footage. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Leaf Collection: City Administrator Kuntz said that the service should be either done right and in an efficient manner or eliminate the program. Alderman Fleming said that the start and stop date of the program should be established at the beginning of the program. City Administrator Kuntz said that this is how the program is set up. Alderman Fleming said that instead of eliminating the leaf program, we should prohibit its ability to grow. Alderman Lembke said that most of the time, the trucks have to be converted to snow plowing before the leaf program is complete.
Alderman Lembke said that street repairs could be done in October, November and early December instead of picking up leaves.
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Robinson to eliminate the leaf collection program in 2008.
Alderman Terbrock said that if the program is eliminated, some residents may rake the leaves into the storm sewer, which will clog Fish Pot Creek and cause water to back up in some yards. He said that this will trade leaf phone calls for flooded yard calls. He said that if the program is continued, it should be done well.
Alderman Robinson said that we don’t have the money to do this job the way it should be done. The discussion should now be when do we completely stop the program. Alderman Terbrock said that by appropriating the requested additional funds will get the program done in a reasonable amount of time and potentially to free up time for crack sealing in streets. City Engineer Kramer said that freezing temperatures are too late for crack sealing. The leaf program requires 32 men per day. This will be approximately 900 man days.
Alderman Suozzi said that to try to fix streets with a band-aid is incorrect. She said time should be allowed for street crack sealing after the leaf collection has been completed. Doing a little of each is not acceptable. The streets need to be addressed in a realistic approach which is a real estate tax. The streets cannot be repaired with pennies. Attacking a service that works and is appreciated by the residents is not an answer.
Alderman Fleming said that the recommendation regarding snow removal is to eliminate overtime, and this recommendation for the leaf program is to pay overtime. He asked what is the value of completing the leaf collection program by a certain date. City Administrator Kuntz said that in a snow plow truck, the employees are not exposed to the elements and not as likely to get sick as they would be if they are outside at that time vacuuming leaves. The trucks must be changed over from leaves to snow. The snow plow operation takes a tremendous toll on the truck beds. If not maintained, they will rust and prematurely fail. There is a lot of equipment and maintenance in the shop that time of year. Having the leaf removal program complete before the typical first snow will eliminate the back and forth switching to match the service. This is the most efficient way to allocate manpower.
A voice vote was taken to eliminate the leaf collection program in 2008 with the following result: Aye: Lembke, Robinson. Nay: Terbrock, Pogue, Suozzi, Boerner, Buermann, Fleming. The motion failed by a vote of 6-2.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to allot an additional $30,000 supplement to continue the popular leaf collection service that 70% of the households use in Ballwin. A voice vote was taken with the following result: Aye: Buermann, Suozzi, Robinson, Terbrock, Boerner, Pogue. Nay: Lembke and Fleming. The motion was approved by a vote of 6-2.
Snow Removal: City Administrator Kuntz said this proposal will provide the continuous service that is currently provided; it will be longer before the streets are cleared, and there won’t be as many trucks on the streets at one time due to dividing the crew into three parts instead of two. The drivers will be working 8 hours instead of 12. He said that years ago, the crews were plowing snow between 16 – 24 hours straight. This is not a safe operation. He said that one standard will not be applied to every snow storm.
Parking Lot Sealing: City Administrator Kuntz said by awarding the contract to B and D Pavement Maintenance Company in the aggregate bid, we will be utilizing some of the contingency fund in the Parks Department which is there for such situations. This is an asphalt related bid, and, therefore, higher than budgeted, but it needs to be done.
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Buermann to award the contract to B and D Pavement Maintenance Company. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Critter Control: City Administrator Kuntz said this is regarding the removal of dead deer. He said if there is a report of a dead animal, we will not wait until the next business day. Our source can be called immediately, especially if it is in a highly visible location or a very hot summer day. At no time will we wait more than 12 hours.
A motion was made by Alderman Suozzi and seconded by Alderman Pogue to accept the dead animal removal proposal. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
2009 Budget Schedule: City Administrator Kuntz suggested a schedule for the 2009 budget planning meetings.
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson and seconded by Alderman Buermann to accept the proposed 2009 Budget Planning Schedule. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Closed Session: City Administrator Kuntz said a closed session is requested regarding a personnel issue.
CITY ATTORNEY’S REPORT
Inter-Governmental Agreement for the Great Streets Initiative: City Attorney Jones said that the new agreement uses the same basic framework as the previous draft. It eliminates the redundancy of the word “city”, it correctly calls the agency the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, it forms a committee, all of the policies that are of interest to the Board, but it does not adopt a spending formula.
A motion was made by Alderman Suozzi and seconded by Alderman Lembke to adopt the Inter-Governmental Agreement. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Curfews: Alderman Suozzi said that previously she presented a resident’s concern regarding curfew times. Chief Schicker has reviewed the situation and the records and does not consider this to be a city-wide concern. This incident was specific to this time and place.
Alderman Lembke said that he has received calls from residents in the Westglen Woods Subdivision regarding coyotes in their area. They are concerned about their small pets and small children possibly being attacked by these animals. Mayor Young said that red foxes are also in the area and in Ward 4. This can be referred to the Wildlife Center.
The Board convened in closed session at 8:52 p.m.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to adjourn the closed session. A roll call vote was taken with a unanimous result, and the closed session was adjourned at 9:16 p.m.
The Board reconvened in open session at 9:17 p.m.
Mayor Young announced that the Board met in closed session to discuss personnel. No votes were taken.
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 9:19 p.m.