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 - Complete
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Young at 7:00 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
The Minutes of the December 10, 2007 Board of Aldermen meeting and closed session were submitted for approval. A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Kerlagon to approve the Minutes. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Tony Lamantia, with Allied Waste, discussed the recycling grant through the Jefferson Solid Waste District. He said that if the grant is successful, the Ballwin residents would be provided with either a 95 or 65 gallon cart for recycle material. Presently 18-gallon recycle bins that are not on wheels are being used. The carts are easy to move to the curb and weather conditions have no affect on carts. The majority of the single stream materials for recycling can be put in to the container. He said he would like to request the 95-gallon container. The grant will not provide enough money to fund the entire city. Allied will do their share in providing carts so that 100% of the residents will have the container. He said the smaller 65 gallon cart could be provided for seniors or those who request it.
Alderman Pogue said that some subdivisions will not allow these containers to be stored outside, and some residents don’t have room in the garage for the large containers. Mr. Lamantia said that in order to use the automated system, the roll carts will have to be used instead of the 18-gallon carry-out containers. He said that the automated system is planned for the whole city. The time line for the grant will have the residents using the roll-out recycle containers by September or October, 2008. He said in 2009, the 95-gallon roll-out containers will be used for trash. The decision is yet to be made regarding yard waste containers.
Mayor Young asked if the 65-gallon container will be available for those who don’t want the 95-gallon recycle container. Mr. Lamantia said that he will have to do this. He asked the Board for approval to use the grant money to purchase 95-gallon recycle containers. Alderman Buermann asked if an educational pamphlet will be given to all of the residents. Mr. Lamantia said there will be two mailings from the time the grant is turned in until the time the containers are purchased. There will be instruction information attached to the handle of the container. There will also be information hot-stamped into the lid of the container. Mr. Lamantia said the recycle container will have a gray lid with the hot stamp on the lid.
Mr. Lamantia said the carts will be distributed at no cost to the residents. He said that St. Louis County is changing their ordinance for the unincorporated areas. It is going to mandate that recycling be part of the hauler’s base service. This will mean once per week collection of trash, recycle, and two bulky pickups per year. St. Louis County is purchasing 65-gallon containers for everyone in the unincorporated areas.
Alderman Pogue asked if there is a subdivision or a villa complex that could not accommodate the larger containers, will the 18-gallon bins still be used. There are always a couple of areas that are unable to be automated. A solution will be worked out. For those areas, if the two 18-gallon bins is all that is possible for use, then that’s what will be used.
Alderman Buermann asked for a report on the number of people recycling. Mr. Lamantia said he will do this.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Robinson to authorize Mr. Lamantia to purchase the 95-gallon roll-out recycle containers. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Glen Gagan, 320 Remington Way Drive: Mr. Gagan spoke regarding the proposed real estate property tax on the April 8 ballot. He asked if the tax is approved, will the funds be placed in a general fund or just for the streets. He said that streets are a need, but a water park is a want.
Mayor Young explained that the water park, and all park operations are funded by the ½ cent sales tax that was authorized previously by the voters. The people who use the facilities pay membership fees. The money coming from the real estate tax would not be funding the parks operations.
Mr. Gagan asked why 40 cents was chosen. He said in Manchester, the tax is 27 cents on the assessed value and the city pays for the trash collection. He asked if a sales tax would be a better way to increase revenue.
Alderman Kerlagon said that sales tax is the main source of revenue for the City. The amount of sales tax revenue is not what it used to be. He said that Ballwin used to have a real estate tax. It was rolled back to zero because sales tax revenues were sufficient. Today they are not.
Alderman Lembke said that there has not been a real estate tax in Ballwin for the past 20 years. This tax probably should never have been rolled back to zero and held at zero for this long period of time. If the 27 cents tax had continued to be collected, the Board would not be requesting a 40 cent tax at this time. There has been an increase in the costs of petroleum, asphalt, etc. The same amount of work costs more money. People used to want to shop at our local malls, but now some of the malls have fallen into disfavor. At some point, this may change and the Ballwin business corridor may be rejuvenated. If at some time in the future, the 40 cents is not needed to maintain operations and streets, this can be reduced. He said that incoming revenues go into either the capital or operating budget. A vast majority of the incoming tax revenue will have to be applied to street repairs. Streets and reserves are the biggest financial challenges for the City. The financial advisors said that our reserves are adequate but should be better. If a storm took off the roofs of Target and Schnucks and these stores were closed for several months, the City of Ballwin would have some real tough decisions to make. The reserves would be reduced and makes everyone nervous.
Alderman Fleming said that 40 cents was designated because operating expenses have gone up every year. The Board thought that approximately $500,000 per year of additional revenue would be sufficient until 2012 when some of the long-term debt would be eliminated. The street consultant has consistently stated that in order to bring the Ballwin streets up to a favorable rating, we need to spend 3 times the amount that is currently spent on streets. Approximately $1 million per year is currently spent on streets. The 40 cents per $100 assessed valuation is not an extravagant amount to do new and exciting things and would provide the needed $2 million per year. This is the minimum that will cover what people state in the citizen surveys that they view as essential services. The advisers from A.G. Edwards state that they are uncomfortable that Ballwin is so reliant on sales tax.
Alderman Buermann said that the PETCO store closed and moved to Manchester. This is an example of the revenue situation Ballwin is facing. This was one of Ballwin’s top 10 revenue producers. In its place is going to be 5th / 3rd Bank. This will bring in only $350 city revenue per year for Ballwin. More service business are coming to the Ballwin corridor instead of sales tax revenue generating businesses. Car dealership are not big revenue generators for the city. He said if the proposition does not pass and additional revenues are not received, the Board will have some hard decisions to make.
Alderman Fleming said that when the budget was evaluated to see what could be cut or what revenue enhancements were available to come up with an additional $2 million for street improvements, the Board determined that an additional 2% on the utility tax would only raise about $600,000. There is no level of expenses that can be cut to generate an additional $2 million. If the proposition does not pass, Ballwin will continue spending $1 million per year on streets and doing the best it can. The voters will have said that they believe Ballwin has good intentions to repair the streets, but it should limp along and continue doing the best it can with its current revenues. He said that this will be the message from the voters if it does not pass.
Alderman Suozzi said that Ballwin’s utility tax is 5% and Manchester’s is 7%. Ballwin’s utility tax used to be 7% but was rolled back to 5% when a capital improvements sales tax was passed. She said street lights cost $400,000 per year and the streets need repair, therefore, the real estate tax is necessary.
Richard Brenner, 726 Oak Meadows Ct.: Mr. Brenner said that streets have been an issue for the 16 years he has been a Ballwin resident. He asked if there is a written report available to the citizens regarding the 40 cent real property tax. Alderman Fleming said that in addition to the Minutes that are on the website, there will be information sheets.
BILL # 3512 - AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR A REAL PROPERTY TAX IN THE AMOUNT OF FORTY CENTS PER $100.00 OF THE ASSESSED VALUE OF REAL PROPERTY FOR THE PURPOSES OF IMPROVING STREETS AND CONTINUING EXISTING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES, AND CALLING AN ELECTION ON SUCH TAX TO BE HELD ON APRIL 8, 2008.
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Suozzi for a first reading of Bill No. 3512. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3512 was read for the first time.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to amend Bill 3512 , reference to “Proposition A”, to be changed to “Proposition B” at the request of the Committee For A Better Ballwin”. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Alderman Fleming said that Mayor Young has prepared documentation on this issue and will be presented under the Mayor’s Report. He said that the document suggests a sunset provision that could be included, whereby the tax would be eliminated after 10 years. He said he cannot personally offer this as an amendment due to the A.G. Edwards recommendation, that a diversified mix of revenue is needed. This would undo the fix that the tax is designed to produce. No one can predict what will happen 10 years from now. He said that Ballwin rolled the tax back to zero in the past. We are frugal in spending and can adjust the tax later on.
Alderman Buermann suggested that the Board vote on the real property tax on a yearly basis. He said that 40 cents is the maximum, but each current Board could decide to roll the tax back. He said an annual vote could be used instead of the 10-year limitation. Mayor Young said that the next 4 years will be Ballwin’s biggest challenge. At the end of the 4 years, $1 million will be available that is being paid on the bonds. At this time, we don’t know what the Manchester Road status will be or other expenses at the end of 10 years. If the proposition passes on April 8, that does not mean that all of the streets will be repaired next year. It’s impossible to shut down the city and do this. At the end of 10 years, a review and evaluation could be made.
Alderman Kerlagon said it was stated that the real property tax probably should never have been rolled back to zero. The City needs the extra funds to maintain and move forward. He asked if it would be more palatable if there is language to give the residents a warm and fuzzy feeling that they are not committing to a tax without limitation. He suggested making the proposal palatable for everybody.
Alderman Lembke suggested using the words “not to exceed 40 cents”. This will let the residents know that 40 cents is the maximum and that it wouldn’t have to be 40 cents. City Attorney Jones said that the Board has the ability to reduce the rate but not raise the rate. City Administrator Kuntz said that if the rate is “not to exceed 40 cents”, how much is the rate going to be? It becomes vague. This is the reason that “improving streets and continuing existing programs and services” was included in the legislation. He said an absolute rate has to be stated. Each year, the Board will have to defend the real estate tax rate based on actual numbers, listen to public comment, and adjust no higher than the 40-cent ceiling. He said unless a definite amount is stated, it will be unclear what the rate is going to be.
Alderman Robinson said that the rate is not calculated on the fair market value of any property or house or on the current appraised value. The assessed value calculation reduces the amount. He said that most people don’t know what assessed value means. He said this should be included in the language on the ballot. The assessed value is only 19% of the appraised value. This makes it more palatable. He said that we don’t need a warm and fuzzy feeling. Residents should be told that every year, there is an intense evaluation and discussion on what can be cut from the budget. There’s nothing else to cut. If the voters vote No to the tax increase, they are sending a clear message to the aldermen: 1) no more taxes; 2) make cuts in the current services. The plan is that if the tax doesn’t pass, there will have to be more cuts. The Board is struggling with this. Are the cuts going to be the $400,000 per year for street lights? It won’t be possible to maintain the streets even at the current levels. The decision that the voters are going to make is to make cuts or move forward.
City Attorney Jones said that his concern from a legal standpoint is that people should understand the difference between residential and commercial property. This is not based on Ballwin zoning classification. It is based upon the St. Louis County Assessor’s classification. A piece of property may be zoned one way, but the St. Louis County Assessor considers it to be something else. He said that this tax will apply to commercial property, as well as residential, and those that are declared to be agricultural property by the Assessor. To give an example on the ballot how this will fit into each of the three categories, would make a cumbersome ballot proposition. The proposition should not be confusing or deceptive because it could be subject to challenge. He said that the residential rate of 19% is a State statute that has been applied by the St. Louis County Collector.
Alderman Lembke said that St. Louis County could change their formula later on. City Attorney Jones said that this is being discussed at the State level.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi for a second reading of Bill No. 3512, as amended. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3512 was read for the second time.
A roll call was taken for passage and approval of Bill No. 3512 with the following results:
A RESOLUTION ENCOURAGING THE MISSOURI LEGISLATURE TO CONSIDER THE ENACTMENT OF LEGISLATION OUTLAWING CYBER-HARASSMENT AND CYBER-STALKING, AND PROVIDING FUNDING FOR THE TRAINING OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS TO INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE CYBER-HARASSMENT AND CYBER-STALKING CRIMES.
A motion was made by Alderman Suozzi and seconded by Alderman Buermann to adopt the Resolution. 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. Police Cars
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson and seconded by Alderman Pogue to accept the Consent Items. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Appointments – Historical Commission: Mayor Young said there are 3 vacancies on the Historical Commission. He asked for Board approval for the appointment of Dot Andrews, Carol Baldwin and Hazel Makowski. A motion was made by Alderman Pogue and seconded by Alderman Buermann to approve the Mayor’s recommended appointments to the Historical Commission. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Annual Reviews: Mayor Young asked the Board how it would like to conduct the annual performance reviews of the Municipal Judge and Prosecuting Attorney. City Attorney Jones said that the Board cannot direct the Judge on how certain issues should be decided. Each case must be decided on its own facts. Ordinances and sentencing guidelines are utilized by the Judge. City Administrator Kuntz said that annual review sessions are not negative; it is an exchange of viewpoints. City Attorney Jones said that the Judge has suggested that the Board review the court fees.
Since this will be a personnel discussion, the Board agreed to conduct one annual performance review in closed session at 6:30 p.m. on January 28, and the other on February 11 at 6:30 p.m., depending on the schedules of the personnel.
“Chicago Taste” Special Use Exception: Mayor Young said this is a proposal to open a restaurant in Gordon Plaza. Most of the business will be carry out, with a small area for eat-in. There will be no alcoholic sales. The Planning & Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Pogue to approve the Special Use Exception. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Appointment: Ballwin Days Co-Chairman: Mayor Young recommended re-appointment of Pat McDermott as Co-Chairman of the Ballwin Days Committee, for a 3-year term expiring December, 2010. A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Suozzi to approve the re-appointment. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Real Estate Tax Distribution Proposal: Mayor Young said the proposed Real Estate Property Tax of 40 cents per $100 of assessed valuation would generate in 2008 (approximately based on 2007 assessments) $2,009,081 from residential property (assessed valuation of $502,270, 210); $3,02,015 from commercial property (assessed valuation of $75,503,790) and the total tax revenue would be $2,311,096.
Mayor Young’s suggested plan for the distribution of the real estate property tax revenue is 80% for streets ($1,848,877); 12% for reserves ($277,332); 8% for the General Fund ($184,888); and the total is $2,311,097.
Mayor Young said his reasoning for these percentages is as follows: The Financial Analysis from City Administrator Kuntz, dated March 15, 2007, projected deficits for the years 2008 through 2012 as follows: 2008 - $146,226; 2009 - $153,458; 2010 - $160,964; 2011 - $168,753; and 2012 - $176,835.
Mayor Young’s plan allows for $184,888, which is more than the deficit projections through 2012. He allocated additional funds because it is impossible to project future expenditures.
The City’s street consultant estimated that we should spend $3 million per year to bring all city streets up to a “fair” rating. His allocation of 80% of the Real Estate Property Tax revenue would generate $1,848,877 plus the $1 million we currently spend would bring our budget for streets to $2,848,877. This is nearly the $3 million figure suggested by our street consultant. It will take time to fix all the streets in the city. In the year 2012, the current street improvement bonds will be retired. In 2013, an additional $1 million dollars will be available for use for street improvements. Mayor Young indicated that the remaining 12% should be placed in reserves. The future cannot be accurately predicted and we must increase our reserve fund for the future of the City of Ballwin.
Mayor Young’s plan includes a commitment to the Ballwin residents that there will not be a “windfall” increase in taxes due to an increased assessment by St. Louis County. Many of the State Legislatures have or will introduce bills to correct unfair practices. He wants Ballwin residents to be confident that we will be fair and Ballwin’s Property Tax collected will not increase more than the Consumer Price index over the 2008 amount collected. The Board must make a commitment to roll back the amount assessed to accommodate the same amount of tax paid plus the Consumer Price Index.
Mayor Young suggested that a provision be included to sunset this tax after 10 years. This will allow the residents an opportunity to vote on this tax after 10 years if the Board at that time deems it necessary. It will be up to the voters in Ballwin to decide. He hopes that all residents will consider this ballot issue on the Real Estate Property Tax and vote on April 8, 2008.
City Administrator Kuntz said the difference between the Mayor’s numbers and the original number was that when this was first discussed, we had personal property tax. That was approximately $200,000. That gave 2.5. The reason this is less was to not impact personal property. It’s not significant based on projections. This will about 2.5 in 2009. Because it’s not exact, the explanation is that personal property was pulled out from the initial calculation. He said these are today’s numbers.
AT&T Cell Phone Settlement: City Administrator Kuntz said this is the last of the major cell phone settlements based on the contracted legal issues that have been ongoing. It’s the most significant in terms of physical impact. In the first settlement, the Board authorized a contribution to the St. Louis County Municipal League. The second was much less and was treated as a payment. On the AT&T Settlement, the sub-total is almost $500,000. 5% of this amount is significant. If the amount that has been paid under protest, the amount would be $309,000. He ask the Board to authorize preparation of the ordinance to send to AT&% that we accept the settlement, and what is the Board’s preference of the contribution to the Municipal League.
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Pogue to authorize preparation of draft legislation for the settlement with AT&T. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
City Attorney Jones said that the Municipal League is very valuable, but he has not seen a plan of what is going to happen to the money if it is donated to the League. Alderman Robinson said that the money could be used for efforts that Ballwin is opposed to, and Ballwin will be funding an efforts in which it opposes. City Attorney Jones agreed. Alderman Robinson said he is opposed to making the donation to the Municipal League. Alderman Buermann said that due to the current financial condition of the City, the 5% should stay with Ballwin.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Pogue to not give 5% back to the Municipal League. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Special Use Exception Regulations: City Administrator Kuntz said this is an effort to streamline the process. He asked if this is a concept and priority that staff should engage in and be considered by the Planning & Zoning Commission and then the Board. He suggested coming up with new guidelines that would not require the formal action as is being taken on S.U.E. transfers. If the business is essentially only a change in ownership and making the change at the administrative level, which would be quicker for the applicant.
Alderman Robinson said he would like to see the process streamlined. This will help the businesses get up and running as soon as possible. City Attorney Jones said that an ordinance will have to be adopted for “Chicago Taste”. The vote taken during the Mayor’s report did not grant them the S.U.E. It was a vote of confidence.
Selection Process for Police Chief: City Administrator Kuntz said that Captain Steve Schicker is serving as the interim Police Chief due to the retirement of Police Chief Jim Biederman. Captain Schicker will continue to serve in this position until the internal process is completed. He asked for an aldermanic representative to serve on the panel interview, and suggested that Alderman Terbrock, the Chairman of the Public Health & Safety Committee serve as the representative. Alderman Terbrock said he will serve on the panel.
Ballwin Athletic Association: City Administrator Kuntz said this is regarding the purchase of city property on Ball Park Drive. Alderman Lembke said the property should not be sold for les than market value. A motion was made by Alderman Pogue and seconded by Alderman Robinson to conduct this discussion in closed session at the end of this meeting’s agenda, since it is regarding real estate. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Facility Usage: City Administrator Kuntz said this is a request for a Town Hall meeting in the Board room by an elected State Representative. The current Ballwin policy does not address this kind of usage. If this is not acceptable to the Board, the policy should be revised. Alderman Robinson said that we cannot control the content of the meetings. City Administrator Kuntz said that the Board room is not a rental facility. If it was a rental facility, there would be more stringent guidelines.
Alderman Suozzi asked if they have checked with the Daniel Boone Library. City Administrator Kuntz said yes but there is a schedule conflict. Alderman Terbrock said that a Town Hall meeting is for community information. Alderman Robinson said that this will allow a candidate who is running for office to use the Board room, free of charge, because it’s a Town Hall meeting. All of the years that this candidate was in public office, he has not used this facility one time for a Town Hall meeting. He said this will open up the room for any one running for office to have a free meeting. Alderman Terbrock said if the candidate himself is not asking for the use of the room, it is a committee that is in favor of the candidate, this is then a community information session. He said he does not see any problem with this. He said the policy is clear and no one changed the policy to prohibit town hall meetings.
Alderman Fleming suggested a $25 fee for 2 hours in the Board room. He asked for more information on this Town Hall meeting request. City Administrator Kuntz said that this will include subdivision meetings and everyone. He said this is a request for an orderly town hall meeting by an incumbent who wants to have a constituent meeting. Alderman Fleming said that if the incumbent representative is holding a meeting on Ballwin’s property, it gives the appearance that Ballwin said yes to the meeting. If a fee is paid, it is paid the same as anyone else. City Administrator Kuntz said that a candidate could stand in front of the Police Department and announce candidacy, but this does not mean the Police Department supports that candidate. Alderman Robinson said it’s different when the candidate is inside. City Administrator Kuntz said that this will be getting into content.
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson to deny the requested use. The motion failed for lack of a second.
Alderman Lembke said that the issue is not whether to allow this use, but to tighten the language so that staff has a direct policy to follow. City Administrator Kuntz said that if the Board approves this use, it will be assumed that it’s not a discussion for town hall meetings, or it could be added.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock to continue with the current policy with a minor amendment that a candidate cannot ask for use of the Board room for a Town Hall meeting, and a committee representative would have to do this for him/her.
Alderman Suozzi said that this is a sitting official and this official represents this district. If he is trying to share information with his constituents, she does not have a problem with this. She said we can’t control the content. It is a public service to share issues that affect his role as a representative. She said she does not want to open the Board room to any candidate.
The motion, as stated, failed for lack of a second.
Alderman Pogue said this will permit any elected official to use the Board room for a town hall meeting that is not using the room for campaign purposes and distribution of literature. Alderman Robinson asked what will be done if the candidate has literature on the table during the meeting. Alderman Pogue said the candidate should then be asked to leave or be charged the prevailing rate. Alderman Terbrock said that the candidate will be informed of this information prior to usage of the room.
The amendment was seconded by Alderman Suozzi. A voice vote was taken with the following result: Ayes: Pogue, Terbrock, Buermann, Suozzi, Fleming, Kerlagon. Nays: Robinson and Lembke. The motion passed by a vote of 6-2.
Winter Workshop: City Administrator Kuntz said the Winter Workshop, on Saturday, January 26, at 8:00 a.m. to discuss service delivery, economic issues and a joint session with the City of Ellisville to regarding cooperative procedures. The afternoon session will be held at Blue Bird Park in Ellisville.
CITY ATTORNEY’S REPORT
Real Estate Property Tax: Alderman Buermann thanked the Board for their support and comments on the real property tax. He said that this is a long-term solution for the City of Ballwin, not a short-term fix for a short period of time.
The Board convened in closed session at 8:55 p.m.
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Buermann to adjourn the closed session. A roll call vote was taken with a unanimous result, and the closed session was adjourned at 9:20 p.m.
The Board reconvened in open session at 9:22 p.m.
Mayor Young announced that the Board met in closed session to discuss real estate negotiation.
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 9:23 p.m.
WALTER S. YOUNG, MAYOR
ATTEST: ROBERT A. KUNTZ, CITY ADMINISTRATOR