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
Meeting AgendaCity of Ballwin Board of Aldermen Meeting Agenda and Briefs
Agendas and Briefs are available before a meeting takes place.
Minutes of a meeting are reviewed at the following meeting and are available after approval by the Aldermen.
MINUTES OF THE MARCH 12, 2007 BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
City of Ballwin
300 Park Drive
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Young at 7:04 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
The Minutes of the February 26, 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.
A RESOLUTION COMMITTING TO COLLABORATION WITH THE CITIES OF MANCHESTER, WINCHESTER, ELLISVILLE, AND WILDWOOD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE WEST COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, TO DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A “GREAT STREET PLAN” FOR THE MANCHESTER ROAD CORRIDOR.
A motion was made by Alderman Suozzi and seconded by Alderman Lembke to adopt the Resolution. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Alderman Lembke said that this is a reaffirmation by the City of Ballwin to work with the neighboring communities who have also felt the sting of a lack of business and economic conditions on Manchester Road. This is not unique to Ballwin. He said this is an attempt to make a more customer-friendly area.
CONSENT ITEMS: (Budgeted items which are low bid and do not exceed expenditure estimates and/or items which have been previously approved in concept.)
Alderman Pogue asked that Item B, Microsurfacing, be removed for further discussion.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Lembke to accept Consent Items A and C through G. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Provisional Judge: Mayor Young recommended approval of Virginia Nye for the position of Provisional Judge. A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Lembke to prepare legislation to appoint Virginia Nye to the Provisional Judge position. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Extension Council Representative: After reviewing applicants and suggestions, Mayor Young recommended the appointment of Thomas B. Ashton for this position. Mayor Young listed Mr. Ashton’s qualifications and experience. A motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Buermann to appoint Mr. Ashton as representative to the Missouri Extension Council. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Resolution – Senate Bill 284: Mayor Young recommended acceptance of the resolution in opposition to Senate Bill 284 or a letter expressing the same opposition. Mayor Young said that if SB 284 passes, mostly likely Charter Communications will demand it be treated the same as AT&T which will cause Ballwin to lose the franchise agreement. There will be less control as to where the large boxes will be constructed. He said in the long run, Ballwin will lose quite a bit of money in fees which are received now vs future fees.
Alderman Suozzi asked if there are other cities adopting a similar resolution. Mayor Young said this resolution was obtained from the Missouri Municipal League and St. Louis County Municipal League. Alderman Suozzi said that the large boxes are right at the curb, it will prohibit control, and are very unsightly. She said that Ballwin’s concern should be expressed.
Alderman Robinson said that since he has not seen Senate Bill 284, he is not prepared to consider this for a vote at this time.
Alderman Lembke said that people who will immediately become dis-enfranchised are those who have not gotten AT&T’s DLS product. He said that this bill is unfair competition because it will allow AT&T to cherry pick prime areas and avoid less desirable neighborhoods. If this bill is passed, there will be continued pressure from Charter to have the State Senate un-franchise them. Ballwin will lose that revenue. In any areas that have severe challenges with the cable, Charter could say that they are not going to support that area any longer. If that happens, some homes could not get AT&T’s or Charter’s broadband service any longer. He said this is a tremendously poor bill. He recommended passing this Resolution at this meeting.
Alderman Pogue suggested each individual alderman contact the senators since there are some Board members that are not informed at this time. Mayor Young said that there will be a bigger impact if the opposition comes from the entire Board rather than individuals.
Mayor Young said that the Municipal League has asked that cities participate to encourage defeat of SB 284.
City Attorney Lucchesi said that the Resolution could be presented and voted upon at the March 26 session as an agenda item, even though this is not a regular Board meeting.
A motion was made by Alderman Robinson and seconded by Alderman Terbrock to place the Resolution opposing Senate Bill 284 on the March 26 agenda of the special meeting for the purpose of conducting interviews for City Attorney and other business, specifically the Resolution. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result, and the motion passed.
CITY ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
Microsurfacing: City Administrator Kuntz said there were 3 companies who performed this work but one is no longer in the business. The two bids are from companies that we have used over the past 6 years for microsurfacing and both have been satisfactory. Based on bid numbers, the recommendation is to award this to the low bidder.
Alderman Pogue said that there are serious OSHA violations that have shown up for Micro Surfacing Inc. He is concerned if they are a qualified as a responsible bidder due to these violations. One of the violation was a fatal injury to one of their workers. Because of this, he prefers using a contractor that has a clean OSHA record.
Alderman Robinson said that there is a $1,400 difference in the bids. He prefers using a contractor with a better OSHA record and reputation. Alderman Terbrock agreed.
City Administrator Kuntz said that this was a 1999 infraction. This company has been used in Ballwin since that time. Alderman Pogue said that the fatal injury was in 1999, but there have been two other serious violations.
Alderman Lembke asked if this is stating to Staff that Micro Surfacing Inc. is no longer a viable vendor to the city. Alderman Pogue said that he does not want to send that message. He suggested that the company prove that its employees have received the additional training and new certification with OSHA.
Alderman Kerlagon said that this company has been used by Ballwin for 8 years with no problems and have been used since the occurrence. He said we are telling Ballwin citizens that we are checking everywhere to cut back on expenses. A savings of $1,400 of a $130,000 project is still a savings.
Alderman Robinson said that he is concerned that they have had a series of violations since 1999. He is not willing take the risk to save $1,400. Alderman Pogue said that Missouri Petroleum Products Company has had a clean record back to 1999.
City Administrator Kuntz said that this requirement should be included in the bid specifications in the future.
Alderman Lembke said that Manchester Road is a mess. MoDOT is requiring the contractor to fix the problem at the contractor’s cost. Alderman Fleming asked if he is suggesting that if the second company is affiliated with who did Manchester Road, that this is not a good choice? Alderman Lembke said yes. City Engineer Kramer said that Missouri Petroleum was the low bidder 3 times in the last 5 years.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Pogue to accept the bid from Missouri Petroleum Co. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Health Insurance: City Administrator Kuntz said that he is recommending that the Board approve a contract with the current provider at an increase of 5.4% and with additional co-pays that will apply on the prescription drug plan. He said the increase is .4 of a percent above the premium amount which was funded in the 2007 budget. The original proposal was a 12% increase that was brought down to 5.4%. There were 4 different companies involved in the bidding. The goal was to be physically responsible and to offer to the employees an equivalent benefit plan that is used today. He said this has been accomplished. The .4 of a percent is based on full employment, 365 days per year. Due to attrition, this difference can be absorbed within the scope of the numbers that we have to work with.
Alderman Lembke asked if prescription drugs are the only change. City Administrator Kuntz said that injectable prescription drugs are also affected. Alderman Lembke said that if an employee gets a generic prescription today, the cost would be $10 per prescription. If on tier 2 which are generally prescription drugs but there is competition in the market place, the price increases from $30 to $35. If they need a tier 3 drug which is a non-generic name brand only, today they would pay $50, but in the future the price would be $75, almost 50% more. For employees on maintenance type prescriptions, tier 1 doesn’t change. On tier 2, the price goes from $60 to $70. Tier 3 increases to $150.
City Administrator Kuntz said that this is an equitable plan but not the most generous. He said that we are trying to balance the needs of the employees with the monetary constraints of the city. This plan does that.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Robinson to accept the plan with the rate of increase of 5.4%. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Financial Issues: City Administrator Kuntz said that as a result of the questions that were raised during the Public Input sessions on financial issues, e-mails and letters, the answers have been prepared. He asked that the Board review the answers to incorporate their perspective. He said that pursuant to Alderman Terbrock’s suggestion, a volunteer citizen, who is a public relations specialist, reviewed the responses for clarity and understandability. He asked if there are any changes before the questions and answers are published on the internet and in printed form.
Alderman Suozzi said that dollar amounts should be shared with the residents on cost saving issues such as concrete slab replacements.
Alderman Buermann said that the Resolution regarding Great Streets should be included in the information regarding Manchester Road revenue enhancements.
Alderman Lembke said that these considerations have been in progress longer than 6 months, therefore, this statement should be changed. He said that these issues have been considered on an ongoing basis for the past 7 years. He recommended the following language be added: “for the past 6 years or more, the City has been pro-actively looking at ways to decrease expenditures and increase income”.
Alderman Buermann said that Item # 15 states 2003 regarding avoiding higher taxes. He said that it may have been 2001.
City Administrator Kuntz said that if the document conveys the spirit, direction, and policy of the Board, we can go forward with providing this to the residents, or changes can be made.
Alderman Buermann said that this document should be immediately published on the website and paper copies to be available at the next Board meeting and at the Government Center. If there are additional questions from the residents, e-mails can be answered accordingly.
Alderman Robinson asked if any members of the Board wants further review of the document. Alderman Pogue asked if there are any objections to the suggestions that were made at this meeting. Alderman Terbrock said that the document should be published immediately. Alderman Fleming said there is nothing wrong with posting this document at this time. Additional thoughts can be added later if necessary.
A motion was made by Alderman Kerlagon and seconded by Alderman Lembke to publish the question and answer document at this time. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Policy Manual: City Administrator Kuntz recommended postponing this review until the next meeting. The Board agreed.
CITY ATTORNEY’S REPORT
Future Finances: Alderman Fleming said that it was agreed that at the end of the budget process, a list of recommendations would be prepared. The recommendations can be revenue enhancements, which are tax increases, cost saving measures, or any other suggestions.
Alderman Fleming said that the least objectionable revenue enhancement was increasing the utility tax from 5% to 7%. It’s estimated that an additional $750,000 per year would be generated by raising the utility tax rate by 2%. Residents who spoke during the Public Input session said that it would be easier to absorb 2% on a small monthly bill than a real estate tax. He suggested raising the utility tax from 5% to 7%, which is not out of line with other communities surrounding Ballwin. Of the $750,000 generated, 50% could go towards streets, 25% to build reserves back to the appropriate level, and the other 25% being held in the budget for emergency operations.
Alderman Kerlagon said that it’s time to propose the utility tax increase and vote. He said a balanced budget is not really a balanced budget when funds are being transferred from reserves. He said Ballwin is spending more than is being brought in and pulling out of savings to balance the budget.
Alderman Robinson said that using 50% of this revenue for streets will provide less than $100,000 per ward. He said that this will not be enough additional money for street repairs. He said the voters should be asked to decide on a tax increase or a cut in services and staff.
Alderman Fleming said that the utility tax increase seems to have the most public support. There isn’t a lot of support to cut services. There may not be enough support to pass a real estate tax. The utility tax increase will provide some improvement toward street and reserves and is a step that can be taken now.
Alderman Suozzi said that street repair is a $40 million problem, not something that can be addressed with $750,000 in additional annual revenues. She said she has not had a lot of calls regarding streets. Some residents have told her that implementing a real estate tax is okay if that’s what’s needed. She said the voter is not given enough credit to analyze the information that staff has spent so much time preparing. Some have asked why the large pool was built. The pool is a revenue generator and improves the community and quality of life. The special school district and library are higher tax rates than what we are talking about. She said that we are funding our police department. Our revenues are going down and the expenses are going up. There’s not much we can do if we are primarily depending on sales tax as a means for funding the city. She is very concerned about the operating expenses of the city. She said that perhaps an agreement could be made that the utility tax is increased now, but if a real estate tax is passed, the utility tax will be dropped back down. That will give the needed quick revenue but still leaves the door open to a permanent solution to the problem. Alderman Fleming said that he is agreeable to that suggestion.
Alderman Terbrock said the citizens don’t want to lose the good services that Ballwin provides. The utility tax could scare off the possibility of voter approval of a real estate tax. Alderman Pogue said that this should be decided by the voters.
Alderman Kerlagon said that the bond ratings will be affected since there isn’t an actual balanced budget. This will affect the ratings on the existing bonds. Rating reviews take place even though bonds are not being issued. Alderman Robinson said that the expert financial analyst did not recommend an increased utility tax. They said the best thing to do is to diversify the income stream, in particular to have a real estate tax. Alderman Kerlagon said that there should be an education process for the citizens. He said that the Board continues to talk about this but there’s no plan in action.
City Administrator Kuntz said that the 2007 budget shows a $141,000 application from reserves. A similar reserve draw last year did not happen. The reserves are gradually being built up. He said, regarding utility tax, the estimates have been $750,000 to over $1 million. We don’t know exactly how much the utility tax will bring in. It will fluctuate. One percent of a salary adjustment is approximately $100,000. A 30 cent property tax is roughly $1.4 million. To bring the streets to a standard score of 70, a conservative estimate, would take about $3 million per year. A 60, 70, or 80 cent property tax may be necessary to truly meet the goals. He said that every budget is balanced. We are not allowed to deficit spend.
Alderman Buermann said that a utility tax is not going to solve the financial problems. A real estate tax, to a certain extent, will not resolve all of the issues. He said the voters should decide. The residents were glad they could pile the storm damaged limbs to the curb for pickup instead of cutting and bundling. There was no extra charge to the residents for this service. He said the reserves should be increased. The operating budget should have a portion of that money. He has had only one call regarding streets in the last 6 months. There should be a revenue stream that is not so heavily reliant on sales tax. He said long-term plan regarding streets needs to be flexible because ratings can change quickly. The 1% increase for the employees is $100,000. Annexation homes with a real estate tax will bring revenue. Without a real estate tax, annexation in the financial sense will not work. It takes money for annexation. He recommended that this be a ballot issue. No city funds can be spent on promoting any type of tax increase. It will have to be a grass roots approach by a group to help make this pass. He said the 2% increase in utility tax will not be available for streets in 2007. The rate structure must be changed with the utility companies. By the time this happens, it will be Fall and concrete and asphalt will not be used at that time. He suggested putting a real estate tax on the ballot to be decided upon within the next 30 – 45 days.
Alderman Fleming said that if it takes a time or two to pass the real estate tax, the utility tax revenue will not be able to be collected in the meantime. If one of the top tax producers was out of business for any reason, we would be taking immediate action to cut costs. He said he will be okay with putting the real estate tax on the ballot, but believes the utility tax should be increased in the mean time. Rolling back the utility tax if the real estate tax passes is acceptable to him, but he is very concerned that there isn’t enough cushion in reserves at this time.
Alderman Lembke said that the budget for streets needs to be increased from $1 million to $3 million. How much more money is needed to provide the employees with the compensation that a first class city should have? He said a utility tax or a real estate tax is not going to provide enough funds for everything that is needed. It needs to be both. If this is not on the ballot until August, it will be January before revenues are coming in. He said it is obvious that additional funds are needed and action should be taken right now.
Alderman Buermann said that the Target in Wildwood and Town & Country, and the Cosco in Manchester will have an impact on Ballwin’s revenue stream. The problem is coming faster every year.
City Administrator Kuntz said that there are only two meaningful options in terms of bringing additional dollars to the table, which is the real estate tax and utility tax. The Board seems to agree that neither one without the other is sufficient enough to achieve a goal or standard that should be set for the community. The utility tax can be initiated by legislation.
City Attorney Lucchesi said that a plan should include what amount is needed and how it will be spent. If a sufficient real estate tax is passed, another bond issue might be possible that will provide the money to fix the other items. The residents might pass the real estate tax if they knew what they would get for it and what are the long term plans. A group should support a plan as to how to get to the goal.
A motion was made by Alderman Lembke that staff should present to the Board a plan to raise $4 million per year in additional revenue sources and state where the $4 million will be spent.
Alderman Suozzi said she is concerned with the $4 million figure. She said the Board should consider options and not a fixed amount. We must know what is going to be done with the revenue. Alderman Lembke said that if all we are trying to do is to limp into 2012, with fuel costs rising, the $1 million will be eaten up. Whoever is on the Board at that time will wonder why action was not taken now. It will cost $3 million per year in today’s dollars for streets. Another million dollars will insure that there are sufficient funds for the police, that we are paying our employees more than the cost of living, that we are competitive in the marketplace, we are able to make sure that we have the people and materials to supply the services that our community has become accustomed to. He said the amount can be stated that the amount needed is around $4 million so that the residents are convinced that we are serious about this.
An amended motion was made by Alderman Lembke and seconded by Alderman Robinson that staff should present to the Board a plan to raise a ballpark number of approximately $4 million in additional revenues with suggested breakdowns where the money will be directed. A voice vote was taken with the following result: Aye: One vote; Nays: Seven votes. The motion failed.
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Kerlagon to draft legislation to raise the utility tax from 5% to 7%, which is consistent with other communities surrounding Ballwin, and that the revenue generated be appropriated 50% to streets, 25% to reserves, and 25% held for emergency operations.
An amendment to the motion was made by Alderman Buermann and accepted by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Kerlagon to draft legislation to raise the utility tax from 5% to 7%, which is consistent with other communities surrounding Ballwin, and that the revenue generated be appropriated as follows: 50% for streets, 40% for operating, and 10% for reserves. A roll call vote was taken with the following result: Ayes: Buermann, Fleming, Kerlagon, Suozzi Nays: Pogue, Robinson, Terbrock. Alderman Lembke abstained. City Attorney Lucchesi said that an abstention is not a yes vote. The abstention becomes a Nay and results in a tie vote. Alderman Robinson said that if an Alderman is going to abstain on a topic, then participation in the discussion is not allowed. Alderman Lembke changed his abstention to Nay. The result was Ayes: 4; Nays: 4. Mayor Young cast the tie breaking vote by voting Aye. The final vote was Ayes: 5, Nays: 4. The motion passed.
Alderman Buermann asked that the Board consider discussion for a real estate tax at the next meeting.
Alderman Fleming said that the Board previously agreed to compile a list of recommendations for future revenues and the budget. He said that this topic should be on the next agenda.
Curb cut and sidewalk damage:
Alderman Terbrock said that at the intersection of Ramsey and Ballwin Commons a curb cut should be there to make crossing the street easier. He also noted that the sidewalk does not continue past the entrance to The Pointe on Ballwin Commons.
Mayor Young said that the sidewalk in front of Selvidge is broken. He asked if this could be repaired.
Letter of appreciation:
Alderman Buermann asked for a letter of appreciation be prepared for the hard work that the city crews have put in on the storm damage. They worked hard in the cold weather and switching the equipment for snow removal and then back again to storm damage removal.
Alderman Robinson thanked Officer Hitchcock for his dedication and efforts in locating a resident’s lost dog and reuniting the owner with her injured pet.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Kerlagon to adjourn. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.
Walter S. Young, Mayor
Robert A. Kuntz, City Administrator