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 Workshop Planning Session
CITY OF BALLWIN
7:45 a.m. Continental Breakfast
8:00 a.m. Call to Order: Mayor Tim Pogue
8:30 a.m. Ballwin Days – Future Directions: Darryl Holman & Jim Lieber, Co-Chairmen
9:00 a.m. Future Budget Focus and Funding Priorities: City Administrator Robert Kuntz
9:30 a.m. Break
9:45 a.m. Employee Compensation
10:45 a.m. Break
11:00 a.m. Code Enforcement Philosophy: Assistant City Administrator Tom Aiken
11:30 a.m. Other Issues (Optional)
MINUTES - BALLWIN BOARD OF ALDERMEN RETREAT
The Retreat Session was called to order at 8:03 a.m. by Mayor Tim Pogue.
Also in attendance were Assistant City Administrator Tom Aiken, Finance Officer Denise Keller, Chief of Police Steve Schicker, Director of Parks and Recreation Linda Bruer, and City Engineer Gary Kramer, Human Resource Coordinator Haley Morrison.
Presentation by Councilmember Matt Pirrello of the City of Ellisville discussing the status of the Great Streets project: Mr. Pirrello described the history of the Great Streets Program involving the five West County cities of Manchester, Winchester, Ballwin, Ellisville, and Wildwood. He explained that as the Great Streets plan is completed, but has only been adopted by the Cities of Ballwin, Ellisville and Wildwood. The Cities of Manchester and Winchester have to this point declined to do so.
Mr. Pirrello explained that the Missouri Department of Transportation is preparing to do a major overlay of the Manchester Road corridor in 2014. As a part of that project, MoDOT has set aside approximately $5 million to be used toward the first elements of the Great Streets plan. MoDOT stipulated that only the cities that have adopted the Great Streets plan are eligible to utilize these funds within their portions of the Manchester Road corridor.
Essentially, the first work being proposed can be classified as low hanging fruit, things that are relatively easy to do and inexpensive. This includes way-finding signage at the major intersections, signage demarking the location of nearby municipal facilities such as major parks, government centers, etc. The painting of all of the traffic signal standards to a uniform black color throughout this section of the corridor, and the installation of sidewalks, trails, and median islands in all three cities.
Mr. Pirrello explained that two issues are currently being discussed by the Great Streets Steering Committee. First of these is the hiring of a firm to conduct a branding process for the corridor. A major element of the Comprehensive Plan for the corridor was that it is not effectively competing with similar areas throughout the metropolitan area for the development of new, and the retaining of existing retail businesses. Additionally, it was determined that the corridor is over-built with outdated commercial space by about 40%. As a result, sales tax generating businesses along the corridor have been in decline, there are substantial vacancies, and the corridor has not been able to attract significant new regional retail development. This development is either going to the Chesterfield Valley or the Gravois Bluffs development along Highway 141 in Fenton.
The belief is that the corridor can be competitive, but it needs to market itself and establish itself as a location with an identity. The primary purpose of a branding exercise is to develop an identity that fits and is consistent with this area, bridges the municipal boundaries of the three cities, and is competitive regionally with the earlier mentioned locations. Individual cities along the corridor have not been previously successful in this endeavor.
The Comprehensive Plan also recommended the creation of a district that crossed over the municipal boundaries. Such a district would be responsible for the promotion of the corridor, and perhaps, if it could determine a method of generating its own revenue sources, become a player in the marketing and development of the corridor. This goes beyond simply making roadway improvements, for which MoDOT is responsible, but perhaps creating some of the alternative transportation and development recommendations in the Great Streets Plan.
The committee has had discussions with the law firm of Lewis, Rice & Fingerish, specifically with Jonathan Dalton of that firm, toward the idea of passing state legislation that would allow the creation of a district spanning the three cities with the proper authorities and responsibilities necessary to make this happen. Mr. Dalton has substantial experience in the creation of similar district legislation on a State level, and was believed to be an appropriate source for assistance in this matter. His firm has offered to provide the legal assistance necessary to present this concept to the State Legislature without remuneration, with the understanding that it would be considered as the law firm to advise the district if it is eventually established.
Alderman Boerner raised concerns that the draft of the Great Streets Steering Committee Intergovernmental Agreement outline that was provided in their packet, contained a substantial number of powers or authorities that he felt might be inappropriate for a district. He believed that some of the things contained therein would be more appropriate as bylaws for a district, and not part of the State enabling legislation. Councilman Pirrello agreed with Alderman Boerner, stating that the draft document in their packet is truly a first blush at trying to outline the powers and duties that the committee thought a district of this nature should have. Much of this language was taken from State statute that has established other similar types of districts. A primary responsibility of Mr. Dalton’s firm would be to put this together into a format outlining the authority of the district, which would become state law. This would probably not detail the mode of operation of structure of the Board which would be part of the adopted bylaws. Clearly anything of this nature, once it was put together in more of a final format, would be submitted to each of the three municipalities before it was presented to the State Legislature. It is the desire of the Steering Committee that all three cities be unanimous in their support of any proposal that is put forward to the State Legislature.
Alderman Boerner asked if a more final draft would be submitted to the Board of Aldermen for its review, prior to this matter moving up as proposed State law. Councilman Pirrello stated that it is absolutely the direction that was anticipated to be taken once this was put into more appropriate statute language.
Alderman Terbrock asked why the preliminary budget was not more equally distributed among the three cities for the work that is being done out of the $5 million being provided by MoDOT. Councilman Pirrello explained that the budget was yet somewhat preliminary, but was based upon the work that each of the three municipalities felt was necessary and could be accomplished within the restraints imposed by MoDOT. MoDOT would not pay for work that was not within its normal scope of jurisdiction, and all work had to be essentially within the existing rights-of-way. The work needed to be politically acceptable to the varying municipalities. When all of these items were piled together, it was the relatively simple and inexpensive types of things that rose to the top as being the most likely early candidates for funding as part of the Great Streets program. When all of that was put together, the money was distributed to each city according to its need. It is interesting to note that the distribution of funds is not completely out of keeping with each city’s relative percentage of the Manchester Road corridor.
Future Directions for Ballwin Days: Mayor Pogue introduced Darryl Holman and Jim Lieber, Co-Chairmen of the Ballwin Days Committee.
City Administrator Kuntz explained that there were no specific issues being presented by the Board or by the Co-Chairmen relative to the future of Ballwin Days, but the feeling was that the Ballwin Days event is perhaps changing somewhat, and it seemed like many people had expressed concern that the Board and Chairmen should understand where each feels the event id going in the future.
Mr. Holman explained that the live entertainment aspect of the event seems to be a growing feature, but there are some serious concerns regarding the physical nature of Vlasis Park. It is difficult to establish a larger space for musical venues, given the nature of the festival as it is today. Alderman Terbrock suggested that perhaps over time, the Committee should gradually phase out rides, especially rides that appeal to older teenagers. The rides should be kept for the young children and perhaps become a less significant part of the annual event. Mr. Holman did not disagree with this in theory, but explained that the rides constitute a substantial portion of the revenue derived by the annual event. If the rides are to be downgraded or removed, it will be necessary to find an alternative source of revenue to cover the costs of the event. Increasing the entertainment aspect could require the establishment of controlled perimeters and charging admission. This would be expensive and somewhat difficult to accomplish.
Alderman Terbrock explained that he did not think it was advisable to do away with the rides, only that perhaps it should be downplayed somewhat. He understood that at some point, introducing large numbers of people, especially people from outside the Ballwin metropolitan area, could become problematic in the park. There’s always the possibility of crowd control damage, etc., that needs to be considered in that kind of event.
Alderman Fleming expressed similar concerns with bringing in large numbers of people, and felt that it would be best to allow the Ballwin Days Committee to continue to be responsible for the direction of the event. The two Co-Chairmen seemed to be very familiar with the nature of the community and the issues that they face in operating the annual festival.
Future Budget Focus and Funding Priorities: City Administrator Kuntz explained that this item has been placed on the agenda at the request of the Board of Aldermen when it was involved in the 2013 budget process. Mr. Kuntz explained that this budget process was somewhat different than the process that had been followed in previous years. Rather than assembling individual departmental budgets for presentation to the Board, the process began with a discussion of what was seen in the previous year’s budget and the upcoming year’s budget that were remarkably different from what is experienced on an annual basis. The intent was to look at the extraordinary expenditures that occur in the 2013 budget year, and understand them as separate and distinct from the ongoing costs that are usually routine from year to year. Having gone through that process, it appeared to Mr. Kuntz that the Board was satisfied that this was a successful approach and helped distinguish the exceptional elements in the new budget. That helped to decide where funds are most appropriately spent.
City Administrator Kuntz said that it is his recommendation that the Board consider placing a portion of the unreserved fund balance into an earmarked fund for specific future purposes. This would eliminate the appearance that Ballwin has a substantial amount of money that is not planned for use and is not critical to the City’s annual operations. He asked that the Board give consideration to this concept.
Alderman Fleming stated that he did not disagree with this concept, but believes that discussion of this topic would be more appropriately reserved until after the April election with the new Board of Aldermen.
Alderman Boerner expressed concern regarding the form of the reports that the Board receives from the Finance Department. He believes that this too should be discussed in some detail when this topic is taken up by the Board of Aldermen.
Proposed Change from L3 to L7 in the LAGERS Retirement Program: City Administrator Kuntz introduced Jeff Kempker, with the LAGERS retirement system. Mr. Kempker described LAGERS, how it works, and the differences between the L3 and the L7 programs.
Alderman Boerner expressed some concerns that the LAGERS’ long range expectation of an annual 7.25% return on investment is probably not realistic in light of the current economic situation. Mr. Kempker explained that their Board of Directors had made this determination based upon experiences in the past 10, 15, and 30 year timeframes. He agreed, however, that the annual returns experienced in the last couple of years had been more in the range of 5%. Alderman Boerner said that 7.25% looking forward is an optimistic assumption. This concerns him because if LAGERS does not receive that kind of annual return, the difference will have to be made up by increasing member annual contributions. Given the proposal to change from L3 to L7, and the associated cost of approximately $2 million over the next 10 years, he was concerned that a substantially higher assessment, based upon poorer returns on reserves, would make this program prohibitively expensive for the City of Ballwin.
Alderman Boerner expressed his position that, at the current factor of 1.25%, the current L-3 retirement program is fair and reasonable without any increase to a factor of 1.50% under L-7. The retirement benefits of the current program equal or exceed most programs offered in both the public and private sector. FERS, the Federal Employees Retirement System, uses a basic factor of 1.0% which increases to 1.1% at age 62 with 20 or more years of service. Retirement benefits for federal employees were reduced in 1986 to make its program more comparable to the private sector. Under L-7, the retirement benefit would exceed retirement benefits under FERS by 40% to 50%. Alderman Boerner was concerned that the movement to the L-7 program would result in long-term employees with 40or more years of service, actually being able to retire with an annual income indexed for inflation in excess of 100% of their annual salary before retirement if Social Security is factored in. He felt that it was against the public conscience to afford public servants greater benefits than the citizens for which they have been employed to serve.
Alderman Dogan expressed concerns similar to those of Alderman Boerner, and felt that the City could not afford to both provide a 3% merit increase for all employees, and also increase the LAGERS benefit from L-3 to L-7. Alderman Fleming stated his belief that the City should perhaps consider both of these approaches, to give a 3% merit increase for all employees, and give that money almost exclusively to a small fraction of those employees to bring them up on the pay scale seems like an unfair and inequitable distribution of resources. If the City were to also increase the retirement benefit, those people who do not benefit from the salary adjustment would also receive some sort of benefit over the long haul.
There was questioning of the department heads as to what their preference would be, a merit increase or a LAGERS increase.
Alderman Terbrock said there is no simple clear cut resolution to the questions before the Board relative to remuneration to the employees. He understands that certain classes of employees are paid well below the current recommendations of the pay plan. He also recognizes that it’s difficult for the City of Ballwin to correct this matter, given the status of annual revenues and the other needs faced by the City.
Alderman Harder raised concerns about the difficulty certain departments were having in securing quality new employees for certain positions. Of particular note in this regard are entry level police officers. If Ballwin hopes to continue to be considered to be one of the top municipalities in the St. Louis area, it’s necessary for it to be able to continue to recruit top quality candidates for positions such as police officers. Alderman Boerner agreed with Alderman Harder’s concerns, and this is why he believes the money available to the City would be most appropriately placed into salary adjustments, rather than increasing retirement benefits when the City already pays affair and reasonable retirement benefit.
A motion was made by Alderman Boerner and seconded by Alderman Dogan that the City not consider moving to the L7 LAGERS program. A roll call vote was taken with the following result: Aye: Dogan, Boerner, Finley, Leahy, Harder. Nay: Fleming, Kerlagon. Alderman Terbrock abstained. Mayor Pogue declared the motion passed by a vote of 5-2.
Alderman Fleming expressed serious concern about the Board having made this kind of a final permanent decision at the format of a “retreat”. He stated that he had never experienced the Board ever making any kind of final or permanent determination on any matter in this format in the past. He was concerned that such a decision was not made during a normal Aldermanic meeting venue.
Alderman Pogue noted that it was rapidly approaching noon, the scheduled ending time for the retreat session. He asked if there were any concerns or questions regarding the remaining issues on the proposed preliminary agenda.
Tim Pogue, Mayor