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.
Aldermanic Workshop/Retreat Minutes
ALDERMANIC WORKSHOP/RETREAT Meeting Minutes
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Young at 6:35 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 Terbrock, Buermann, Suozzi, Robinson, Fleming, Gatton, Lembke, City Administrator Kuntz, City Attorney Lucchesi, Director of Parks & Recreation Bruer, City Engineer Kramer, Finance Officer Loehr, and Chief of Police Biederman. Alderman Pogue was absent due to the passing of his father.
Interview issues, priorities, concerns
City Administrator Kuntz: “Interviews were conducted with all of the Board members and the Mayor.
I have taken the individual comments and suggestions, and I incorporated them into what I consider to be at least a consensus of what the group opinion was. A lot of the questions has to do with the information that you got and it was not very eye opening or controversial. Those internal communications with minor tweaking seem have a consensus of satisfaction. Getting down to the major issues were the goals that the Board had established. I think that the primary goal is the future financial condition of this community relative to the services and programs that we provide. We devoted a good portion of that agenda to some external option discussions, some internal strategies, and I think you will get good insight from a representative from the local real estate community. Because of the sensitivity of that discussion, it will be in a closed session because he is going to name some specifics about properties and things that are not for public consumption at this point. Several things that were suggested were by individual members that had some potential but didn’t represent the consensus. I would like to start in the middle section of the memo and see what the rest of the Board would like to do in terms of discussion.”
“The Mayor and I met. The other hot topic that was not mentioned by the Board that we spent a lot of time on, and will come back to the Board for direction, is the future annexation plan. Because the Boundary Commission is going to ask for this as a 5-year plan, I suspect that we would re-introduce with a different strategy a lot of what you have already adopted as a Board. That could be a separate discussion later. Until we know what their rules are, anything in depth would be premature. I would like to discuss the other goals and comments that you made, and see if there are any topics that you would like to see the staff provide additional information, perhaps budget attention, or where the consensus was among the group for some of these items that were listed, such as the facilities and programs with adjacent communities, the senior center, upgrade of the parks, working on some of our more internal issues as opposed to the bigger picture. We are needing this for direction and input. Anyone who wants to jump in, this is a sideway introduction to what we have done so far.”
At this point, there was no comment by the Board.
City Administrator Kuntz: “I have given you a memo of what my goals and priorities were. For the most part, they definitely involve what the Board has said, but there are others such as property management, getting more aggressive with respect to some of the useless remnants and disposing of those. There is one such parcel in the hopper right now that perhaps will lead to a for-sale by owner as soon as it clears through the Zoning Commission and the County. I assume that this is something that the Board is still in favor of, moving in that direction as well as possibly doing some potential property acquisition if it is adjacent. We have a recent change in property ownership near one of Linda’s facilities. We are making some preliminary contacts to see if the estate has any interest in working with the City. We did that while the individual was alive. Property is something that we don’t get many opportunities either good or bad. The other one is the one that we have already had discussion. It’s not something cities do aggressively, but we need to be aware of this. I assume that we have the support of the Board to at least bring the proposals to you as they become available.”
Alderman Lembke: “I would suggest from my standpoint, I would like staff to very pro-actively, perhaps aggressively is too strong, but certainly pro-actively look at properties immediately surrounding city-owned properties to the point that we are contacting these people pro-actively years in advance of any possible opportunity to see if we can purchase an option or first right of refusal at the time that the property would come up for sale so that we know about and have the opportunity to do this. I think this is something that staff has done in the past. I would like to suggest that as a directive or guideline. Speaking for myself, that is what I would like to see happen.”
Mayor Young: “In the past we have done this and there are some properties that we should do this. I definitely hope that we will do something of that nature. If you could get the property owner to put up a first right of refusal, and sign off on it, and file it with the County Recorder’s Office, at least you have the first right, it can be released. We would at least be aware of the property situation.”
Alderman Lembke: “Is this what we want to say to the staff or do we want to let this drop? I think this is our opportunity as a Board to give some direction to the staff and they have asked for direction.
Alderman Suozzi: “I concur with you.”
Alderman Gatton: “I think that anytime there is an opportunity to acquire property, whether it is contiguous to existing property or not should be evaluated and considered.”
Alderman Terbrock: “I think whenever an opportunity arises we should pursue looking into it. I agree.”
Mayor Young: “Sometimes you want to be pro-active so that when it comes to the time, they are not seeking outside people, but they already know that the City is interested in their property.”
Alderman Gatton: “Historically, the City has frequently been offered first chance at large properties, such as the Multiplex site. We were approached about that before it was marketed. I don’t want to limit our review to contiguous properties by any means. We should definitely be pro-active regarding contiguous properties.”
Alderman Buermann: “I don’t have a problem with this, but it always comes back to one thing, money.”
Alderman Suozzi: “We need some general knowledge of what the expenses are involved in right of first refusal. Is it just attorney fees, appraisals?”
City Attorney Lucchesi: “It usually depends on what you can bargain, it’s not free.”
Mayor Young: “Sometimes people will do this for $100, some want more. If that’s all it is, it’s well worth it.”
Alderman Robinson: “Staff does a good job. In this case, I think it is a good idea telling staff to be more pro-active, but in a way, we are telling them to go shopping or keep an eye out for a bargain, but we haven’t given them any other parameters about how much money is available. We know the answer to that – none. How much time should they spend? They are pretty well tied up with most of their time and we are putting one more thing on their plate. When we give people instructions like that, it hurts morale because we are telling them to go march off and do this, but we haven’t given them any other information. While I think it’s a great idea and say let’s do it, let’s make sure we do it the right way for staff. Perhaps at budget time we could create a pool, focus on some sites where they could focus their time. There’s a lot of area in this city and we don’t want them spending a lot of time doing something that may not be fruitful and becomes a waste of time, and something else gets neglected. We all know that we don’t have the money right now. We are putting the cart before the horse. If we really are serious about making acquisitions, we need to be serious about examining our financial structure. How can we make funds available? Are we going to make them available by increasing revenue or by reducing current expenses and cutting services. Maybe this should be explored first and then talk about how we are going to spend the money if we get it.”
Alderman Buermann: “I think Jim brings up a good point. This is one of the topics that can be discussed with the comprehensive planning for our 10 – 15 year outlook and identify properties. The Planning & Zoning Commission can work on our behalf or an outside consultant without having to bother staff.”
Alderman Robinson: “We talked about revisiting the amount of property that needs to be set aside for multi-unit projects. A lot of these developers don’t want to put in the recreational portion and we have given them an option to buy out of it. They don’t have to put it up if they pay a certain amount of money. The consensus of the Board was that this was not enough money. Maybe we should increase it and that could be the money we use in this fund specifically designed to acquire property to enhance our recreational facilities. The recreational money will stay for that purpose. Staff will know how much is in the fund and then if a piece of property comes available we will know how much money is available. It will give us focus and waste less time.”
Alderman Gatton: “I like the idea of setting money aside that we receive from recreation fees assessed to new developments and set aside for property acquisition. I highly endorse this.”
City Administrator Kuntz: “We have money that is only used for recreational amenities and is never used for services or programs. It is always physical attributes or enhancements. I don’t think we are on different wave lengths with this. We have been selective and it is not something that Parks Director Bruer or I or anyone spends one day a week on. It’s a lot of word of mouth or in inquiring, and to know that you are generally responsive as opposed to we don’t need anymore property and we are fine the way we are. It was hoped and intended that this first parcel that we hope to sell after it gets through the zoning would be the first pot for the fund. The piece of surplus property would be used as a down payment or real estate fund specifically. It can be supplemented. It’s a matter of balancing those priorities with opportunities. Just because it’s available, it may be cost prohibitive. We could have bought land next to the golf course but we couldn’t win the bidding war. Sometimes it’s based on opportunity and knowing that the Board is open to listening to anything that’s reasonable.”
Alderman Lembke: “I sure would hate to see a piece of property next to one of our parks come up for sale without our knowing about it then getting into a bidding war with a developer. Some upfront work can possibly position us so that we could economically purchase the property, give them a good value, and expand the park system.”
Alderman Buermann: “It was suggested to put money away in the budget for this. I support this suggestion.”
Mayor Young: “If we are going to get rid of some of the surplus property, we could put that money aside as a starting place. We won’t have to put this in the budget because money will be coming in that can be used for this purpose.”
City Administrator Kuntz: “Generally what we are doing with the recreation fees that are being paid, we are recommending, and there will be an ordinance to increase that amount to more current levels. That stays in recreation. It’s an it’s not a revenue source. If it is an expenditure, it will say that it is going for the rec escrow fund., whether it’s a soccer field or a track, something that we can point to that shows this is what we got out of it. This is every bit as important as adding to the inventory. At the Government Center, we have to get more pro-active with our facilities in terms of energy conservation and management. This will continue to be a bigger portion of our budget. We can’t ignore that. We are going to have to spend some money like you do in your home; insulate, upgrade windows, caulk, etc. This is done to make it energy efficient. Most of the Public Works fleet has been converted to diesel. Chief Biederman has embraced the more fuel efficient vehicles as the option to the Crown Victoria. We have a proposal out right now to provide inspection services for plan review to the City of Winchester. We do street sweeping for Winchester and police work. The success on this depends on both sides.”
Break for Board Meeting
Adjourn: The Workshop session was adjourned at 7:00 p.m. until completion of the Board of Aldermen meeting, and will resume at that time.
Walter S. Young, Mayor
Robert A. Kuntz, City Administrator