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.
Capital Budget Work Session
October 24, 2005 Capital Budget Work Session Minutes
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Young at 5:30 p.m. in the Board room at the Donald “Red” Loehr Police and Court Center at 300 Park Drive. The meeting was open to the public and notice was posted in the 24-hour lobby of Ballwin Police Department, the Government Center, and The Pointe on the Friday preceding the meeting. Those in attendance were Mayor Young, Aldermen Pogue, Terbrock, Buermann, Suozzi, Robinson, Fleming, Gatton and Lembke. Also in attendance were City Administrator Kuntz, Assistant City Administrator Aiken, Finance Officer Loehr, Director of Parks and Recreation Bruer, Public Works Director Kramer, Deputy Director Berger, Police Chief Biederman, and City Attorney Lucchesi.
City Administrator Kuntz presented a brief overview of the proposed Capital Budget. He said the budget is down somewhat from 2005 due to lower grants in 2006. The debt service, coupled with dedicated park revenues, is $3.4 million of the $4.44 million revenue. He said $400,000 of parks tax revenue is being used in the Parks Operating Budget. All Parks revenues are being spent in the Parks Department. The budget includes funding for the possible acquisition of real property. This was placed in Administration Dept. because of the possible resale of the site. This could not be done with Parks funds because of limits on the use of those funds.
City Administrator Kuntz said revenues are very flat. There is virtually no increase from 2005. Mayor Young recommended going through each department one at a time.
Public Works Director/City Engineer Kramer presented an overview of the Public Works budget. City Administrator Kuntz said the budget is well balanced by ward for road projects. More work is being done with city crews, but more equipment will have to be bought to do this.
Alderman Robinson said that Dutch Mill is a major thoroughfare serving Wards 3 and 1. There may be similar roads like this in Ballwin. He believes that the whole city should share the cost of this roadway.
Alderman Suozzi said that there are similar streets in Ward 2 such as Kehrs Mill. City Administrator Kuntz said that every ward has at lest one street like this. He said if the Board wants to do this, it can be done. It’s just a matter of determining the amount.
Alderman Gatton said all wards have this kind of situation. It will be hard to do this without hurting Ward 4.
Alderman Fleming said this will be the second of three parts for Dutch Mill. City Engineer Kramer said that is correct. The next worse street in Ward 3 is Mansion Hill, which will cost approximately $300,000 to repair.
Alderman Buermann said that doing more work in-house is the way to go. He believes that more can be done this way. City Engineer Kramer said that the current plan to do slabs with city crews will shut down the sidewalk crew for the season.
Mayor Young asked where the seasonal people will be used. City Engineer Kramer said they can be put on crews and mixed in with city employees to provide additional productivity.
Alderman Fleming asked what street work do we do with our own crews. City Engineer Kramer said that our crews prepare streets for overlays and microsurfacing. To finish the work requires special equipment and cannot be done with our own crews.
Alderman Terbrock asked who pays prevailing wages. City Engineer Kramer said the hired contractors all have to pay this.
Alderman Gatton asked if increasing fuel cost been factored into the cost. City Engineer Kramer said yes, but it is an estimate.
Alderman Pogue asked, with Barker scheduled for a major subdivision, should another street be considered? City Engineer Kramer said that this is a good idea. Alderman Pogue asked about Howard. City Engineer Kramer said that Howard is not a candidate for microsurfacing. The street needs to be completely replaced. The money budgeted for Barker is insufficient for Howard. City Administrator Kuntz said it is best to find another project in Ward 1 than to try to bank dollars for future years.
Alderman Pogue asked, can the truck scheduled for replacement be repaired rather than replaced. City Engineer Kramer said the problem is that salt has eaten it up.
Parks & Recreation
Director of Parks and Recreation Bruer presented an overview of the Parks & Recreation Capital Budget. Alderman Buermann asked which quarter in 2006 will the $50,000 be spent on the trail plan? Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer said she thinks that it would be spent in the second quarter.
Alderman Buermann asked if the golf course irrigation system could be phased in over several years. Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer said that this is not economical. Alderman Lembke suggested we try to do a 3-year lease approach like we did with the salt dome.
Alderman Terbrock asked if the clubhouse painting can be done with city crews? Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer said that this can be done with city crews if the time can be found to do this. She said in order to do this, we will have to not do something else, like street tree trimming.
Alderman Pogue asked, how many golf carts does the city own? Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer said the city owns 30. Alderman Pogue asked if we can run them for another year. City Administrator Kuntz said yes, but we will take a hit on resale and maintenance. Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer said that the Easy-Go carts that are scheduled for replacement are not reliable and we really need to get rid of them.
Alderman Buermann asked, can the Historical Commission be made a tax exempt group to make them a better incentive for donations? City Administrator Kuntz said that he believes this may be possible. Alderman Buermann asked how long to finish the restoration of the school house. Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer said about 2-3 years.
Alderman Robinson asked, can the Arts Commission be expanded to include the schoolhouse? City Attorney Lucchesi said he believes that this can be done.
Mayor Young asked, can the indoor water play structure be made to last longer? Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer said that the new equipment seems to be made of superior materials and hopes that it will last longer. She said they will review the stainless steel alloy to make sure it’s okay for this application.
City Administrator Kuntz said many cities have had this problem. We hope to get better life than the 9 years that we got with this equipment.
Mayor Young asked, will the recreation path plan be part of the Comprehensive Plan? Should any expenditure be held until the Comprehensive Plan is done? Alderman Lembke said he hopes that Ballwin will be able to partner with Manchester to develop a plan.
Mayor Young said he believes that more money needs to be raised for the artwork before Ballwin chips in its own money. He asked if Parks funds should be banked for future land acquisition.
Chief Biederman gave an overview of the Police Capital Budget. Alderman Lembke asked, can the speed monitor take pictures? Chief Biederman said this technology is not available at this time.
Alderman Robinson asked if this budget would compromise officer safety. Chief Biederman said no.
Alderman Pogue asked if there are any grants for vehicles. Chief Biederman said no. We don’t have enough exposure to be able to get Homeland Security funds.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken gave an overview of the Administration Capital Budget.
Alderman Terbrock asked if street light repairs can be done with city crews. City Administrator Kuntz said there is a danger to the crews. They are not trained to dig around buried lines. People do not want trenching in their yards. He said people blame everything on the City. Alderman Terbrock said he believes that the boring costs are too high.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken talked about the easement issue for boring. People are more willing to grant easements if the line is bored in rather than trenched.
Alderman Buermann asked, is there an alternative to electric street lights? City Administrator Kuntz said he is not aware of anything, but we have a commitment with AmerenUE via the contract.
Alderman Fleming asked, could the administration building repairs be considered for Parks funding since it is in the park. City Administrator Kuntz said that this could be dangerous from a politics as well as a legal perspective.
Alderman Suozzi asked, do we have park equipment in the Public Works yard? Is that a funding option? City Administrator Kuntz said a small area. City Attorney Lucchesi said we need to be careful and to review the tax vote.
Adjourn: A motion was made by Alderman Suozzi and seconded by Alderman Fleming to adjourn so that the regular Board of Aldermen meeting could begin at 7:00 p.m. The Capital Budget meeting adjourned at 6:59 p.m. Mayor Young announced that he would reconvene the meeting after the regular Board meeting.
The Capital Budget meeting discussion reopened at 8:07 p.m.
Alderman Fleming said that we are looking at a budget situation that isn’t particularly good and the options are limited to make drastic cuts that no one probably wants to make, as are the ways to generate additional revenue. The other thing we can do is to see if it’s possible to spend our money differently. If there’s another interpretation of what the Parks money can be used for, since these buildings sit in a park, it’s worth looking at a broader interpretation of that.
City Attorney recommended not relying on a City Attorney’s opinion, but instead, going into court and getting a judicial determination. He said this is not the kind of thing that is considered park, even though it’s in the park. It’s another thing to buy ground with a building on it and spend the money to tear it down. It’s a different thing to use park money to fix a building just because it’s in the park.
Alderman Fleming said in the capital budget there is money for land acquisition. Is that something that might be more viable for Park tax funding, given where these things might sit? City Attorney Lucchesi said if it’s land acquisition that’s going to be used for a park, the answer is yes. If it’s not going to be used for a park, and you are going to do something else with it, the answer is no.
Alderman Fleming asked if there is money for this land acquisition in the Finance & Administration budget? City Administrator Kuntz said that the first comments he made had to do with land acquisition. He said he did not put it as a Parks expenditure because it was his understanding that this Board’s direction upon securing said ground was to solicit proposals to determine value and whether it should be held by the city or used as a resource for the City to apply at another location. He said that if you use Park money to finance a piece of property. You can’t use the proceeds of its sale other than to pay back the Park fund. He said to avoid that, he put the land acquisition in administration and proposed the utilization of non-park tax funds for this purpose.
Alderman Lembke said that he was the one who sat on the chair to get the ½ cent sales tax for Parks and Recreation passed. One of the challenges that he had was people who said they would approve the ½ cent and then the Board would spend it on whatever it wants. He said he made a commitment and in good conscience would not be able to go along with any idea that’s going to take money from Parks and Recreation to utilize in some other way.
City Administrator Kuntz said that if Alderman Lembke feels that seriously, then he proposes that the Board abandon real estate transactions rather than apply funds in a manner that could challenge their integrity and lead to questions from any future member of the public.
Alderman Fleming said that if the general consensus of opinion here is that to spend Park tax money on something that is in a park is inappropriate and there’s no acceptable way to spend differently, then he said he cannot necessarily share that opinion without more information to back it up.
City Attorney Lucchesi said that one of the things you do is you don’t let people come in to go to the lavatory in the Government Center because it’s not a public place. He said it is very difficult to say that you can spend money on this if you won’t let the public come in to use the lavatory. Alderman Gatton said that we are renting out commercial space in the building.
City Administrator Kuntz said the Government Center was not part of this park acquisition. It was a separate parcel and has a separate parcel number. It was purchased separately. He said the Public Works garage has a better argument and the Police station. He said from a public perception standpoint, we are at risk.
Alderman Robinson said he is not interested in proceeding down that path and he agreed with Alderman Lembke. He said we came under some scrutiny when we passed this. The criticism was that we would find some creative way of channeling those funds from Parks & Rec to something else. He said we made the commitment that we would be the watch dogs and not allow that to happen. We are in a budget situation but we promised.
Alderman Suozzi said that we also need to remember that the Parks tax allowed us to remove capital items out of the regular budget that were paying for parks issues that now could be paid strictly out of this Parks tax. She said we already freed up money from the general capital budget by having that tax.
Alderman Robinson said that he applauds Alderman Fleming for his creative thinking, but in this case there’s a danger in being too creative.
Alderman Suozzi said that the only thing we could possibly do is to say that the maintenance area houses 10% of the park equipment. She said we split up the Parks tax with so much for administration, so much for various items.
Alderman Lembke said that in theory, if a piece of property became available and we had the intention of purchasing it for park property, and we purchased it with Park money, and then determined that it was much more valuable to our citizenry to use it in a different fashion, such as demolishing the Police Department building and turning it into a bigger park and building the Police station at the new location, then we would need to go back and recoup those dollars and say that part of the capital building process and administration has to internally switch the land around. In that scenario, he said he would have no problem having purchased that land with Park money and then selling it. Whatever money we had invested would come back to Parks. He said to take Parks money and fix the ramp on the Government Center because it’s next to the park or in the park, that’s not a good idea. He said he would rather see another way to do this.
Alderman Pogue asked City Engineer Kramer, in light of recent events, does he anticipate any more expenditures to remain in compliance with DNR’s regulations? City Engineer Kramer said that last week we had an inspection from DNR for a storm water permit. They are supposed to give us a report in 4-6 weeks. He said there are a few things in the yard that we need to do such as spill containment. City Administrator Kuntz said that the biggest thing he would like to discontinue is street sweeping. It is mandated because of the elimination of the contaminants that enter the storm water system. You have to have a street sweeping program. He said we are stuck with the highest maintenance piece of equipment that there is. It has a 10-year lifespan, and now we have to buy a new street sweeper.
Mayor Young asked if a contingency fund is going to be set up to buy a new one in 10 years. City Administrator Kuntz said we will if we ever have enough cushion to put money into a contingency fund.
Alderman Fleming said that what you will end up explaining to the public with this budget is that we don’t have a retaining wall by the Public Works maintenance area, and we’re not repairing as many streets, but we have a cool looking sculpture. City Administrator Kuntz said that people say that we have the money to build the nicest family aquatic center in all of St. Louis County, but we don’t have enough money to fix their street. Alderman Fleming said it’s a matter of where people want to spend their money. City Administrator Kuntz said it’s a matter of how people already voted and told us how to spend the money. Alderman Fleming said the three options are drastic spending cuts, raising additional revenue, or maybe we can spend differently.
A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Fleming to adjourn the Budget Work Session. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.
Walter S. Young, Mayor