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 Retreat Meeting
MINUTES OF THE ALDERMANIC RETREAT
CITY OF BALLWIN – 300 PARK DRIVE
Saturday, January 29, 2005
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Jones at 8:04 a.m.
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. Those in attendance were Mayor Jones, Aldermen McDowell, Pogue, 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, Police Chief Biederman, Public Works Director Kramer, and City Attorney Lucchesi. Also present were Mike Boland, Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission; Planning & Zoning Commission members Ron Kadane, Phyllis Erwin, and Tim Reisel.
Revenue / Expenditure Overview
City Administrator Robert Kuntz provided an introduction to the Workshop and talked about revenue planning and the relationship with the City’s long range comprehensive plan update planning.
Finance Officer Glenda Loehr provided an overview of historical revenue experiences and discussed future trend projections.
City Administrator Kuntz said noted that car dealers take up a lot of space but do not generate revenues that correspond to their gross sales. This is why the business license formula was changed last year to include square footage and not just sales.
Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Mike Boland said there are 4 retailers that may be at risk for Ballwin. Target might be moving because of the site they are looking at in Wildwood. Ultimate Electronics is in bankruptcy; Walgreens – their business model is not as the Ballwin Walgreens is at this time; Schnucks – the Ballwin Schnucks is the smallest Schnucks store in West County and perhaps St. Louis. He advised that the Board needs to be aware of the businesses that may go away, as much as the new businesses that might come into Ballwin. He also said that perhaps car dealerships should be taken out of the equation, since car dealerships do not help increase the sales tax revenue. Alderman Buermann said the Red Lobster building is deteriorating. He said that Crestwood is like a ghost town and he doesn’t want that to happen to Ballwin.
Alderman Gatton said that approximately 25% of the existing businesses are not producing much sales tax revenue. The Mobile space is going to be a paintless dent removal shop, the space that was originally intended as a major transmission repair facility and car wash next to Wolff, is now going to be a car storage lot which produces nothing in the form of sales tax revenue. This trend may continue with a percentage of Ballwin businesses becoming non-revenue producing.
City Administrator Kuntz said that putting all of our eggs in the retail basket reflects that diversification is still the key to ultimate financial security. There are certain things that are beyond our control because there are economic factors that no matter what is done to encourage, they will still make decisions that are not in the best interest of the Ballwin economy.
Alderman McDowell said that 5-10 years ago Target was a blessing. No one knew at that time that they were going to change into a new model which is locating in a big strip mall; Walgreens has gone into a cannibalism type of market where they place their stores everywhere and don’t care if it takes revenue from other stores; Schnucks has always been one of the strongest grocers in the St. Louis market. We did not perceive that Dierberg’s was going to be so aggressive. Some radical changes may need to be made. The economy has thrown us some big curves. We will be limited on the new tenants that are brought in because we cannot foresee what’s on the economic horizon.
ReTAIL RECRUITMENT & DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Tim Roof, from the Buxton Group, gave a presentation regarding growing the retail sector.
Mr. Roof said that Ballwin has a problem. The St. Louis County revenue sharing law does not help. Everything will be redevelopment and there are no Greenfield sites. He said it’s not possible to plan a retail corridor without knowing what parameters will limit or guide the plan. Cities must have a diversification of revenue sources. Don’t put all of the revenue eggs in the sales tax basket. Don’t rely on a lot of the same kind of retail sales.
Mr. Roof said that Ballwin needs the cooperation of the local business community. At this time there are big land uses with low sales tax revenue. There are also many small businesses that do not generate taxes. The current demographic data does not provide enough information to sell a site to a business. He said it’s important to think about drive time for businesses, not service radiuses.
Alderman Lembke said that there are companies that do not want a TIF. Mr. Roof said that retailers want to expand and find new opportunities for good store sites. He said when Buxton Group recommends retailers as a match for a community, they pick from a pool of 3,200. Mayor Jones asked how Buxton is compensated for the service that could be provided to Ballwin. Mr. Roof said it is a flat fee. Every community that is over 10,000 in population pays $70,000 for the service. This is for matching retailers to one site. He said in February, St. Charles will hire Buxton to match on three sites. Theirs will be more than $70,000. The entire 2.1 miles of Manchester Road will be considered one site.
Alderman McDowell asked what is different from Buxton’s information vs. in-house data compiled to match sites with particular locations. Mr. Roof said there isn’t much difference. The big name retailers have in-house divisions that do that kind of matching. Their trend has been to reduce their cost of operation by bringing in Buxton because Buxton is not staff and the company doesn’t have to pay the overhead. Some of these larger companies may not have ever done an analysis of the Ballwin area. Ballwin could be a great match for them but they may not have ever analyzed this site. If not, you can make a strong case why they should consider Ballwin.
Alderman McDowell said that Ballwin serves as a portion of the Manchester Road corridor. Any future development should be a consistent development that benefits all of the tenants and cities along the corridor. Now there is something going up in Wildwood that will take away from Olde Towne Plaza. Mr. Roof said that anything that Buxton recommends as a match is going to take in the competitive environment as well as cannibalization. He said he is not going to recommend “Best Buy” when there is a “Best Buy” down the road. He said they will only recommend the ones that make sense.
Mr. Roof explained that if there is a situation where no retailers can be matched and they are not willing to locate in an area due to full retail development in surrounding areas, the Buxton Group has refunded the portion of the fee that was not used. He said they have refunded money on three occasions because Buxton could not help that community.
Mr. Roof said that in an effort to retain current retailers, Buxton would suggest that Ballwin pick businesses that you would like to see a match. You could then go to Target or whoever and suggest how you can help them.
Alderman Suozzi said that a lot of people avoid Manchester Road because of the heavy traffic and difficulty getting around. Mayor Jones said that a lot of business along Manchester Road prosper because people have to use Manchester Road to get from east to west. Ballwin has the largest sector of Manchester Road with 2.1 miles. There is commerce along this route that Ballwin wants to retain. We don’t want to be a thoroughfare for people to get from Wildwood to Des Peres. We want them to stop in the Ballwin retail area when they are here. It’s important that Ballwin finds a way to maximize the impact on sales tax for this community.
Alderman McDowell asked if we have maximized the whole tax structure as far as business is concerned. City Administrator Kuntz said this information is contained in the last page of the report.
Alderman Fleming asked how much of a businesses decision is based on demographics and the psychographics. The psychographics might not be very good in attracting businesses. He said that we don’t have a person on staff whose job it is to make the phone call after the letter from the Buxton Group arrives, someone actively trying to sell the concept. Mr. Roof said that the most important element for a store is if they can make a profit at this location. Don’t limit yourself to the borders of the city. The driving time is more important to customers and they usually will go beyond the border of the city.
Mr. Roof said if a Tiffany Jewelry Company opened a store, it may be empty store in months or a few years because the Ballwin area may not have Tiffany Jewelry clientele. It’s more important to know what’s right than what we might dream we would like to have or what we think should do well in a certain location. Let the data tell you what’s right. Alderman Fleming said the psychographics are going to be more important than the demographics. Because of where Ballwin is in relation to Ellisville, Chesterfield, Manchester and other communities similar in nature, everyone’s demographics might indicate some of the same possible tenants.
Alderman Fleming said that if there is a smoking ordinance in Ballwin and not in Ellisville and the two are ¾ of a mile apart, this could be sending a message to potential businesses that there is a Board in Ballwin that likes to put their nose in our business. He said there has been active effort between Richmond Heights, Clayton and Brentwood. The City Administrators and Mayors got together and talked about what kind of services can we jointly provide to our citizens and how can money be saved for the citizens by combining efforts. Inter-governmental cooperation is an important part of the plan whenever possible. Any opportunities that are available to improve service for citizens and decrease costs is where the City should get to.
Assistant City Administrator Tom Aiken presented a report on the history of our past experiences in comprehensive planning.
Mr. Dan Lang, with Horner and Shifrin presented current options of comprehensive planning. He said that State laws set some criteria for a plan. Today’s buzz is sustainable development. Can we keep it healthy and full and well maintained for a long time?
A successful plan needs to involve community participation. We need to start with a visioning process. Implementation strategies are very important, and the consultant will provide valuable assistance in this regard.
1. New Urbanism is the current trent in planning
Wildwood Town Center and Winghaven are going in this direction,
but it has been slow to come in St. Louis
2. We need to be ready to adopt new technology
3. In terms of redevelopment vs. development, you shouldn’t assume that anything isn’t possible.
There are several stages of successful plan preparation:
1. Pay for consultant’s time
2. Gather background data – base level stuff
3. Collect public input
4. Chart strategy to meet input
5. Go back to community with strategy
7. Final Plan
A comprehensive zoning revision does not have to be part of a plan.
Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Mike Boland asked if the plan will look at parcels that are not being under-utilized. Does it make sense to put in a parking lot so that a car dealer can store 20 more cars or is there a better use? Mr. Lang said that from a planning perspective, he would say there are so many under-developed parcels and this is what we think development activity could be on those parcels. These are parcels that have opportunities beyond their present uses.
Mr. Boland said if Target decides to move to Wildwood and the property at Holloway and Manchester becomes vacant, would it makes sense to keep it zoned for retail? City Administrator Kuntz said the Southwestern Bell utility area behind the Mobil Station is totally out of characteristic with the community.
Mr. Lang said that a future land use plan addresses the issue of how property can be utilized. Design guidelines can be established for the community. This can be done as part of the zoning code.
Alderman Suozzi asked how do you balance how certain property owners feel that their property is commercial and should stay commercial when there are legal issues involved with “down zoning”. Mr. Lang said the comprehensive plan would address what uses there should be and could even address the density issue. If it is changing from an industrial to residential use on the future land use plan, it doesn’t have any direct impact on what actually happens on the ground in the zoning ordinance. He said there is not a court in Missouri that will go against a future land use plan that went through a public process, and was agreed upon. He said the future land use plan is a strong part of the comprehensive plan.
Alderman Buermann said that public input should be obtained. He asked if other communities do this. Mr. Lang said that unlike most other actions that are taken by the Planning & Zoning Commission, they don’t make a recommendation to the City Council for the comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is adopted by the Planning Commission. It is their document. A lot of what’s in the plan affects money issues and it the City Council isn’t buying the plan, it’s not going anywhere. The Planning & Zoning Commission adopts the plan with a resolution in support of the plan for the City Council. He said his company works with either the Planning & Zoning Commission directly or an advisory committee. It then goes through the citizen process to make sure that the Citizens feel that they have input. He said that we shouldn’t let any consultant do a plan for the City without getting good information from the citizens, this group, or another focus group, otherwise you are wasting your time.
Alderman Lembke said that the citizens should be asked through the “Horizon” for their input.
City Engineer Gary Kramer gave a brief overview. He said it’s more of the same, all about streets, everything in Public Works is focused on streets, the biggest part is maintenance. Of that maintenance there are two components: Personnel and Equipment. Capital improvements is upgrading what we have now. In the next 5-10 years we will need other methods of doing the street upgrades. The GIS program using maps to record data and information about the streets, will provide a historical record of what has been done and the street reassessment will be mapped also. Street maintenance is the main focus of the Public Works department.
Mayor Jones asked if cost recovery is successful with regard to additional permit fees and inspection fees. City Engineer Kramer said cost recovery is successful on the Excavation permits, but not on the Grading permits. Streets and sidewalks are inspected when they are being built, but there isn’t a structure for charging for this. At Olde Towne Plaza, many re-inspections were made but there was no charge. He said charges could be made for new subdivisions or redevelopment of commercial property.
City Administrator Kuntz said new ways are constantly considered to improve the infrastructure without going to the total reconstruction. He said regarding Alderman Fleming’s suggestion for pavement testing, companies are being considered that do this testing for airport runways to determine what’s under the pavement before an evaluation or budget projection is made. We don’t want to spend as much to test as it would take to budget for the worst case. You may still find out what you don’t want to hear, but at least you will know it before the financial commitment is made.
Alderman Buermann asked what are the plans for a possible secondary Public Works yard in the Castlewood area. City Engineer Kramer said this will depend on how large the city grows. If annexations go all the way to the Meramec River, a secondary location would be necessary.
City Administrator Kuntz said that in the last couple of snow storms that occurred on a Friday night or Saturday, he said he was reluctant to call in the overtime for black streets. This, however, is not consistent with Board policy. How much is the Board willing to pay for that standard? If the standard is lowered, what is going to happen to the public perception in terms of support for the Board. Alderman Suozzi asked what are we doing to our streets with all of the salt?
Chief of Police Jim Biederman said that the assumption is that the City will annex areas to the southwest and southeast of the current city limits during the next 10 years with a potential growth in population to 50,000 people. Even if limited or no annexation occurs, certain items in the 10-year plan that have been identified will still be required in the future. The future challenges can be broken down into four categories: 1 Personnel and benefits, 2 Technology, 3 Police Facility Enhancement and Expansion, 4 Equipment.
1 Personnel and benefits
The candidates that we will look for in the future will be quite different from the past generations. New officers will be motivated by considerably different ideals and values, making law enforcement employment less of a calling and career and more of an occupation attached to an income and benefits package. We will require a more highly educated and technically advanced police officer. Typical high school graduates may not be able to function adequately even in many of today’s law enforcement environments; by 2015, their capacity to do the job will, in all likelihood, be noticeably inadequate. Therefore, we must do what we can to attract, retain and promote the most qualified officers. We will need to improve our benefit package by increasing the starting pay, enhancing the retirement program, by providing comprehensive medical coverage for current and retired employees are things we need to do to remain competitive and to attract officers with experience and education.
Policing has become an information-based business and if we are to survive, we will have to hire, develop and promote officers who are capable of coping with conflicts in a rapidly changing environment. Police Chief Biederman said he would like to focus on advanced less lethal and lethal weapons, a CAD System with Global Positioning so that they can recognize the closest car to a crime scene, a state-of-the-art command center or at the very least, SUVs that can be adapted as a command center, and video monitored intersections for red light violators.
3 Police Facility Enhancement and Expansion
Police Chief Biederman said that if we annex and grow, the facilities we currently have will quickly become inadequate. Currently, there is not enough storage space for extra equipment, found bicycles, and nowhere to house recovered stolen cars while they are processed. Additional salleyport space will be necessary for incoming and outgoing prisoners. A garage to store the radar trailers, recovered lost or stolen bicycles, and equipment will be needed. It will also be necessary to have carports to protect the vehicles and the equipment in them such as in-car computers and cameras from the elements when not in use and to allow quick response for the officers.
Police Chief Biederman said we will need to continue to update and increase the number of radar trailers, purchase new weapons, vehicles, computers, cameras, crime scene equipment, office equipment, and fingerprinting systems.
Police Chief Biederman said that to maintain the Police Department as a viable agency in the future, increased funding will be critical. He suggested the following for funding and cost saving measures:
1. A Public Safety Tax to be presented to the voters,
2. Merging operations, such as communications, investigations or patrol services with our neighboring cities,
3. Charge a service fee for a citizen’s call for a police response to include a fee for the report to be written,
4. Limit patrol time to peak times of the day where the volume of calls for service are the heaviest.
Police Chief Biederman believes that there will be a strain on revenue and on our dependence upon sales tax for future funding.
Alderman Buermann asked if the GPS system can be adopted for Police applications? Police Chief Biederman said that it’s something that they can record as far as where something is. The global positioning system that he is referring to is for map plotting. It’s something mounted in the car. The dispatcher can see where the car is at and could direct that car to a specific location.
Mayor Jones said that, regarding fees for service, an emergency vehicle that comes from a fire district does charge. When the person is transported to the hospital, many times their insurance company pays for it. He said in a typical automobile accident, the police officer responds to reconstruct the scene, determine who was at fault, write up a report, and then the insurance companies benefit from the investigation, as do both of the drivers, neither of which may be a resident of Ballwin. He said he thinks this is a good opportunity to charge for this type of service. Mayor Jones said that this should be considered and this would not have to be submitted as a ballot measure. Legislation would be required for a user fee.
Mayor Jones said that some police agencies have gotten away from traditional response time statistics. If there is a crime against persons or property, you want to have the quickest possible response time. If you are being called to look at a dent on an automobile that someone noticed the next day that probably occurred the previous night, there’s no reason to be there in 2½ minutes. The police officer should make an appointment handle this incident. Mayor Jones said if there is a dispute between two neighbors, the police officer sets an appointment time to meet and investigate the issue. Any time we can do this and try to get away from the idea of judging the effectiveness of our police protection on response time, it will allow us to engage in better planning and better use of our resources.
Chief Biederman said the Ballwin residents are accustomed to a quick response by our officers. It doesn’t matter to them that the incident occurred 24 hours ago. They call and expect to see the office there quickly. This will be a matter of education. Mayor Jones said we are going to have to continue to educate people in the comprehensive plan that we are going to begin working is a great opportunity to educate our citizens and let them know that these services, while they are very important, can still be provided in a safe and cost effective manner, but perhaps a little differently.
Alderman Robinson suggested hiring a Public Safety Officer who does not need technical training, computer training, drug and evidence training. Their job is to go to the accident scene, make the report, do the diagrams, and talk to the witnesses. Their time would be paid by the parties who want the police report. This officer would not have the authority to write a ticket but they will not have to respond to the quick response calls. The Public Safety Officer could be paid less than the Police Officers. City Administrator Kuntz said this suggestion would work better in a large city. He doesn’t think there is enough complexity in Ballwin for this to be as effective as in the City of St. Louis.
Alderman McDowell said that in order to keep qualified officers, there will have to be an increase in salary and benefits. More officers are moving to areas where the salary and benefits are attracting them. An officer that has the technology knowledge and is not making an adequate salary to take care of his family will move to another jurisdiction. This is the most pressing issue before us.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Director of Parks and Recreation Linda Bruer said annually the parks sales tax brings in approximately $1.6 million per year. Because of the development of The Pointe and North Pointe, approximately $975,000 of that is spent on debt retirement. There is approximately $300,000 per year of funds from the park tax that could go toward the upkeep of the current facilities.
The Golf Course irrigation system was installed in the early 1960s. She said this will be a $200,000 item for replacement.
Director of Parks and Recreation Bruer said the last time a park plan was done was in 1992 and it determined the location for The Pointe. Everything in the park plan has been completed with the exception of a trail plan. The park plan would be part of the comprehensive plan and the development of the trail walkway system.
She said sometimes it is hard for individual cities to get news coverage because of something good that was done, but if regional cooperation is possible, perhaps positive publicity will be possible.
Alderman Buermann suggested looking at the parks grants every other year and perhaps Ellisville or Winchester we could combine the parks grants altogether and have a bigger pool of money. Parks Director Bruer said she is meeting with Manchester and Chesterfield on Tuesday to begin talking about the trail plan so that the communities can be tied together. She said there are grants available for trails. The State and County have grants for trails.
Alderman Gatton said the population is aging and suggested improved programs for senior citizens. Parks Director Bruer said there are more senior programs at The Pointe.
Alderman Lembke said we need to keep in mind what will need to be done to change the recreational facilities to meet the needs in the future. Will we have to do renovation instead of just maintenance.
Assistant City Administrator Thomas Aiken said he thinks annexation will increase every personnel base function in the City. More public and legal input will be required in most matters and decisions. There will be more public demand for access to records and as a result, more detailed records are going to be kept. Clerical duties will increase regardless of the technological innovations. More State and Federal rules for keeping records, procedures etc. More emphasis will be placed on city employees to recognize, accept and respect diversity. The age of the workforce is going to different and perhaps more expensive or less efficient ways of doing physical labor and intensive activities. Fuel and energy costs are going to continue to rise to the point where they become a critical factor in the City’s economic activities.
Alderman Buermann asked if the inspection fees are adequate at this time to cover the costs. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said the fees are sufficient at this time. There are a lot of operations in the inspection department that the fees don’t cover. There is no fee for a nuisance inspection or for going after the owner of a derelict house and trash in the yard, going to court, inspecting in 90 days, and having to condemn the building to have it torn down. This is all very time consuming and does not produce any revenue. This is all combined in the cost to operate the department.
Alderman Suozzi said that the Board has determined that the housing inspections are important and not all costs can be recovered.
People who come into the Government Center are able to schedule their Ballwin inspection and the Metro West inspection at the same time. They can even pay for their Metro West Inspection at our building.
SO WHAT’S THE PLAN?
Alderman Buermann said that we do need to attract new businesses to Ballwin, however, he does not think we can afford the $70,000 fee for Buxton’s services. There are things that we can do ourselves to nurture a good relationship with the business community, such as the aldermen making five business contacts each month to thank them for doing business in Ballwin. He said the aldermen should go out and present themselves to the business community.
Alderman Lembke said that he is certain that we don’t have the $70,000 to pay out to Buxton. He said this looks like something the City of Ballwin should need or want so that we have the hard knowledge. Rather than turning this over to a developer and subsidizing this with a TIF and allow the developer to either keep it or sell it off to someone else and allow them to get people in that use the same old ways of doing things to either maximize or minimize. He said he is concerned about going into phase 2 when phase 1 isn’t filled. Are we going to end up with 35,000 square feet and a portion not being maximized? We have an obligation to at least consider this.
Alderman Buermann said that there are a lot of 1,200 – 1,400 square foot commercial buildings in Ballwin. How can these be filled up with sales tax generating businesses?
Mayor Jones said that the comprehensive planning process will take a year or more to implement. It would be premature to hire Buxton first. We should complete the plan and have those goals embodied in the product. He agreed that making contact with the businesses is important. The business owner is not always on site. It’s usually a tenant or manager who doesn’t have the authority that would make a difference in the business climate.
Mayor Jones said that when he became Mayor, it had already been decided that the Business Retention & Development Committee was not serving a great function because we don’t have on-site managers and owners. He said there is going to be an overlap between our planning consultant and Buxton if both are being done simultaneously.
City Attorney Lucchesi said that before Buxton is consulted, we should look at the 2½ miles on Manchester Road. This is a planning function. You have to think more of what’s there than what you want there. This is part of the comprehensive plan. He said the Board should be thinking about how the Manchester Road area can be enhanced instead of replacing what’s already there. The Hi Fi Fo Fum area is a tough location for a business. What can be done to make it so that it is not a tough location?
Alderman Pogue said that he agrees that we cannot fund the Buxton Group at this time, but they can give us information on what businesses would thrive 10 – 15 years down the road rather than those that come in for 3-5 years.
Alderman McDowell said he agrees with City Attorney Lucchesi. If re-development is done so that it is attractive, businesses and people will come. We have to first commit to going down this road. This will be a never ending process. It will never get to a point where we have all of the business in Ballwin that we want, therefore we can stop, because businesses will leave. Years ago if we had Kmart or Sears in our city, we would have thought we had it made. Do we want to be constantly in a development battle or do we want to look at alternative revenue sources for the City of Ballwin? We have to make that decision. Do we want to find other ways of funding our resources or do we want to stay on the economic cycle of saying let’s redevelop, let’s redevelop, let’s redevelop. At some time, the character of the City will be compromised. We may have to go through some alternative revenue sources to keep the characteristics of our neighborhood.
Alderman Lembke asked can we sustain the type of services that our community expects from us and is demanding and will continue to demand into the future without looking at alternative ways of increasing revenue other than through sales tax? Alderman Buermann said no, we can’t. Alderman Lembke asked if anyone on the Board disagrees. No one disagreed. Alderman Lembke said that part of the comprehensive plan has to be looking at other types of revenue.
Alderman Lembke asked what vision do we have for the City of Ballwin 10 years from now? Do we have enough information to see that vision of what we want to have. Alderman Buermann said we do, but there are 9 different visions; we are not going in the same direction, and that is part of the problem for the Board, staff, Planning & Zoning Commission. Somewhere along that line, we have to get to one single vision. It will be a combination of everyone’s input to get everyone on the same page. This will take many planning sessions.
City Attorney Lucchesi said that the Board should look closely at the Target property because he doesn’t thing Target will be here 10 years from now; it may not be here 2 years from now. He said if you are going to look at something short term, he suggested looking at redevelopment of that area. The Target store has been there a long time. They usually don’t stay that long.
Alderman Gatton said that when we talk about additional revenue sources, what we are talking about is taxes. If we decide we are going to have to find additional revenue sources, we have to prepare the community for that. If any new taxes were put on the August or November ballot, it would fail miserably. The internet tax was defeated. The business and retail district needs to be the focus of this Board. If we don’t do this, we will end up the way Maplewood was five years ago. The business and retail sales is a big chunk of Ballwin revenues. If we don’t develop alternative sources, we also need to plan for what happens if we don’t. If 75% of our expenditures is for employees, if we don’t get additional revenue sources, we will have to cut employees, and none of us want to do that.
Alderman Buermann said there was an article in the “West News Magazine” and it stated that 34% of our revenue was from sales tax. It’s a lot more than that, but this percentage is in print and out to the public. Alderman Robinson said we should not waste our time talking to the press because they are not going to print what is accurate. They will print what they want to make a story. He said we should continue to focus on getting information out to the residents through the “Horizon”.
Mayor Jones suggested that on the next Board meeting agenda under City Administrator’s report, the hiring of consultants to begin the redrafting of our comprehensive plan. We should ask for requests for proposals. We are probably at least 2 months from hiring a consultant. Assistant City Administrator Aiken said he has already been interviewing, which is why Mr. Lang was present at this meeting. The process has unofficially begun. This will be funded over a 2-year period of time. Hopefully the consultant will be hired by July 1. City Attorney Lucchesi said that a 4th class city does not have to take the lowest bid on anything, but you will have to take the heat from the citizens if you don’t take the lowest bid.
Mayor Jones said that this will be our objective in the upcoming year, and emphasize the importance of the Planning & Zoning Commission, which will be the group that will interface most directly with the consultant and organize the information that comes from the various groups. We don’t need to have 17 public hearings, but probably 3 is not enough.
Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Boland said that the Buxton Group will charge $70,000. Our portion of sales tax is typically 1% - 2%, therefore, it will take a long time to recoup that amount of money.
City Administrator Kuntz asked that at the Finance & Administration Committee meeting on February 28, could we discuss formulating an action plan? Alderman Buermann agreed.
Adjourn: A motion was made by Alderman Buermann and seconded by Alderman Gatton to adjourn the open session. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned at 12:07 p.m.
Robert E. Jones, Mayor
Robert A. Kuntz, City Administrator