Board of Aldermen Meeting Agendas & Minutes
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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 Agenda click here
MINUTES 2011 BUDGET WORK SESSION
The Budget Work Session for 2011 was called to order at 6:03 p.m. by Mayor Pogue. In attendance were Aldermen Terbrock, Finley, Schmer, Markland, Fleming, Leahy, Boerner and Mellow. Also in attendance were City Administrator Kuntz, Assistant City Administrator Aiken, Finance Officer Loehr, Chief of Police Schicker, Director of Parks and Recreation Bruer, and City Attorney Jones.
Budget Approach / Philosophy
Alderman Markland said that in July, he expressed his belief that a zero based budgeting process should be considered. With revenues being uncertain, we still need to give the citizens of Ballwin the best service possible with the funds available. He said that if we really tried, we could save funds. Zero based budgeting is a method to determine the lowest cost provider. If it’s Ballwin, then Ballwin crews should be used for the project.
Alderman Markland said that he brought up the Police Department at the last meeting. An answer has not been provided about the cost for St. Louis County to provide this service. He said suddenly our budget has decreased from $5 million to $3.4 million. If there is $1 million or more that can be applied to streets, this should be done and not take the money from reserves. He said the budget should be looked at from a different direction.
City Administrator Kuntz said that to do a pure total zero based budget, this should be analyzed by a disinterested third party that is an expert. There will be a tendency for staff to be defensive. If this is the direction the Board wants to proceed, he recommended that they interview and engage the services of a qualified person or firm to do this.
Alderman Markland said that this is why he brought it up in July. Now we are in September. City Administrator Kuntz said that this was suggested by only one alderman, and he has to work in accordance with the direction of the entire Board. Alderman Markland said that in July, no one said not to use this approach. He said it sounds to him that City Administrator Kuntz is unwilling to do this internally. This is why he brought this up in July so that we would not be in September and then there’s no time left to do the right thing. He said it was brought up with ample time, and it’s the City Administrator’s job that if he sees it as a problem, he should discussed this with the Board. No one was publicly advised of the problem. City Administrator Kuntz said that it was his recollection that it would be brought on the table for Board consideration in conjunction with the budget.
Alderman Fleming said that City Administrator Kuntz sent an e-mail to all of the aldermen asking about the zero based concept. He asked if Alderman Markland believes that because no one said no, that it means that everyone was in favor of the concept? Alderman Markland said that by not saying no, it means that the subject is still open for consideration. It now sounds like the door has been slammed shut because we don’t have time in the budget process to consider this concept. Alderman Fleming said that he has not heard any one else express an interest in doing this for every single item in the budget. He said he is interested in hearing how Alderman Markland may incorporate this for specific areas. If everyone goes into the year with the idea that just because an item is in the budget, doesn’t mean that the money has to be spent and that each item is examined closely as it comes along. This would accomplish the same thing. Alderman Markland said this would be a step in that direction. He said that prior to that happening, the Board of Aldermen, of which he was not a member, set up a purchasing policy which was violated by a purchase, plus it was not in the budget because. Mayor Pogue said that there was no violation, and the purchase was never made, so, how could the purchasing policy have been violated? Alderman Markland said that the purchasing policy was violated by putting the item on the agenda for consideration to be purchased. He said that the staff who put it on the agenda knew it was a violation of the purchasing policy.
Alderman Boerner said that on the surface it appeared that the policy might have been violated, however, the letter was only an expression of intent, it was not binding, and the purchase order had not been issued. Without the purchase order, there was no commitment to make the purchase of salt.
Alderman Terbrock said that this is supposed to be a Budget planning work shop. It has nothing to do with a purchasing policy and salt.
Alderman Fleming said that he does not believe that zero based is the best process. This should be used more selectively to evaluate particular items.
Alderman Markland said that zero based is justifying what we are doing. Some areas will be more detailed than others. The Public Works staff level is based upon certain peak work loads, and then we keep those employees 52 weeks per year because of a certain performance level that at different times each year. He said that it may be even more expensive when employees are sitting the rest of the year when they are not working productively as was the case when they were when they were installing concrete.
Alderman Boerner said that the Public Works employees have multiple roles. He said the work force is optimized to do all of the functions, street patch work, leaf pickup, salt and snow plowing, not just one or two and then have nothing to do the rest of the year. The people who work on these projects, work on all of the projects. City Administrator Kuntz said that the same equipment and trucks are also used in all of the projects. The equipment has to be converted to the next project. It is multi-tasking based on seasonal demands. Golf and Parks employees are trained to assist with the leaf collection and snow plowing. He said that some contractual drivers have been added but with very limited success because of the liability factor.
Mayor Pogue said that he believes the Board does a thorough job of reviewing the budget when adopted and as expenditures are authorized.
Alderman Schmer said that before individual services are discussed, it should be determined if the budget should be reduced, add to it, take money out of the reserves, or put money into the reserves. He asked if there is an intent to cut 10% out of the budget? He said the revenues are projected to go down 2%.
City Administrator Kuntz said that the revenues are not projected to go down 2%. Finance Officer Loehr said that 2010 revenues are a little confused right now because a grant was moved to 2010 from 2011, and it is unclear if the utility settlement will land in 2010 or 2011. These issues skew the year to year comparisons depending on how they come in. Alderman Schmer said that based on the numbers provided, there will be a 2% decline.
Alderman Terbrock said that when the Board is given a set of numbers, but various deductions have to be made in the amounts provided, this causes the Board not to see the correct figures to make decisions. The Board needs to be given straight numbers without technical deductions.
Alderman Schmer said that if the revenues are projected to go down 2%, then the budget should be cut back 2% or more.
City Administrator Kuntz said that for 2010, the budget that was approved showed revenues of $14,622,334 versus expenditures of $15,114,390. The preliminary revenue projection for 2011 is $14,822,264.
Alderman Terbrock asked could we look at a status quo approach to the 2011 budget and then work from that basis to flush out the final budget.
Alderman Markland said he likes Alderman Terbrock’s approach. He said we do not need $102,000 worth of salt so that we have 3½ years supply. This should not be included in the budget.
Alderman Schmer said that if $4 million needs to be taken out of reserves, that is a clear message that we have to absolutely slash the budget. The reserve fund should be used in an emergency. He said there are people that will say that since we have $9 million in reserves, why is there a need to cut the Police Department. Some may say that since we have to take $4 million out of reserves, the budget should be cut because they are taking out almost half of the reserves.
Alderman Schmer said that he is not against taking money out of reserves for streets. There is a possible negative perception both ways. The reserves don’t have to be touched at all and can be earmarked where it is. It doesn’t have to be moved out of reserves in order to be earmarked for a certain purpose.
Alderman Schmer said that the most gratifying 2½ hours he has spent since he has been on the Board of Aldermen was the Parks & Recreation tour that he took with Director of Parks & Recreation Linda Bruer. He said that he was able to see behind the scenes what it takes to keep all of the equipment working. He said not only did he see the pretty water, but also the ugly pumps underneath and the people who have to work on them everyday. This helps put the numbers with the task that they have to accomplish. You can’t talk about slashing the budget unless you talk about the responsibilities that they have to incur. He said that at every meeting, someone questions the numbers. Ballwin is about the people, the pools, parks, recreation, police department, and many amenities that we have for the citizens. Maybe a better way to do this would be helpful and more efficient. He said that City Administrator Kuntz has been trying for a year to find out what the Board wants to do.
Alderman Finley asked how is it decided what can be cut? Alderman Fleming said that a list is provided and discussed. Some purchases can be postponed as a result of discussing the service, cost and benefit. He said that any alderman is free to question the items during the budget process. Postponing the purchase of golf carts last year was an example of this.
Alderman Markland said that he is asking that items be considered and discussed with the people who are knowledgeable about the item. Mayor Pogue said that just because the expenditures are in the budget, doesn’t mean that the funds have to be spent.
Alderman Terbrock asked for an average figure of how much money usually comes back at the end of the year that was not spent. Finance Officer Loehr said that 2009 ended approximately $900,000 under budget for expenditures. There were some positions that were not filled and the salary increase didn’t go into effect until April.
Alderman Boerner said that the City has done a very good job at controlling costs. There are cities that have a smaller population than Ballwin and have three times the amount in their budget. Zero based budgeting requires a process and a structure. He said he is not sure that an outside consultant is necessary. This could possibly be evaluated at the committee level. It is too late in the year to utilize zero based budgeting for 2011.
Alderman Fleming said it’s hard to do these mathematical comparisons. We cannot count on $400,000 coming back into the budget one year just because that was the amount in the previous year. Every year is different. He said that he remembers sending back $200,000 one year because approximately $200,000 was budgeted for a new ramp at the Government Center. The ramp was not installed that year. He said the reserves are there to be used to provide the level of service that the citizens have said they want. He didn’t hear any residents say they wanted services cut so that we don’t have to touch the reserves. We only do that when financial times are desperate. He said that financial times are not desperate right now. They are actually pretty good. He would ask staff to propose a budget this year to provide the same level of services that are in place right now, and try not to touch reserves more than $500,000. He said that last year, we budgeted for gasoline being $4.00 per gallon. Gas prices did not go that high for the year.
Alderman Boerner said he agrees with Alderman Fleming. He doesn’t see anything that will change fundamentally what has been done in the past, except scrutinize it. He said that there should be a valid comparison from year to year.
Alderman Schmer asked Alderman Fleming, is he asking to not use more than $500,000 more than was budgeted for 2010, or is he saying that since we didn’t spend the $900,000, to spend $500,000 in addition to where we ended up, which would really be $400,000 short. He said that Finance Officer Loehr said that $900,000 was returned back to the general fund. We came in $900,000 under budget. If you want to increase the budget by ½ million, is he talking about ½ million over the $900,000, which would be spending $1.4 million more than we did this year, or is he talking about spending $500,000 more than we budgeted because we came out $900,000 ahead?
Alderman Fleming said that he wants to know what we think it will cost to provide the same level of services in 2011 that we did in 2010. Alderman Schmer asked if this is based on the budget number in 2010, or what the actual amount of money that was spent in 2009, which was $900,000 less than budgeted. Alderman Fleming he wants to know what it will cost in 2011 to provide the same level of service that was provided in 2010. Alderman Schmer said that this is a $400,000 decrease in the budget.
Mayor Pogue said that now that we have had a 55 minute discussion on Item 1 out of 6, how does the Board want to direct staff for the Budget preparation? Should staff provide the number to stay status quo of what we are this year, or ask them to cut?
Alderman Leahy said this has been an hour long discussion talking about $400,000, $500,000. He asked to be given the bottom line number that will be spent in 2010, and the bottom line number that should be spent next year. The Board can then decide what to do. He said all that is needed at this time is the number. Alderman Schmer said that total expenses for the city, minus $900,000 because that’s what came back into the budget, and that’s what can be used to run the city.
Mayor Pogue said that the question right now is how much is it going to cost to stay status quo in 2011 to provide the same service level that we have had in 2010. We are not looking to cut services, but to maintain the same service that we have. That is the direction the Board needs to give staff. Prepare a budget to maintain the level of services that we had in 2010.
Alderman Terbrock said that he would like to see a “wish list”. A new irrigation system needs to be installed at the golf course.
Mayor Pogue said that staff should provide what it will cost to maintain the same level of service as this year and not to cut services. He asked does the Board agree. Alderman Terbrock agreed.
Adjourn: The meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
Tim Pogue, Mayor
MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN MEETING
The meeting was called to order by Mayor Pogue at 7:11 p.m.
The Pledge of Allegiance was given.
Ray Kerlagon, 1146 Westrun Drive: Mr. Kelagon spoke to the Board regarding the budget. He said that for a person with a salary of $1,000 per month is a $12,000 annual expenditure. If the person is not hired until November, all that will be spent in that year is $1,000 in November and another $1,000 in December. $10,000 can be given back into the budget. At this time, this position would be under budget, but it must be considered how this will be paid for in next year’s budget which will be the full $12,000. The bulk of Ballwin’s revenue comes from either sales tax or utility tax and should be considered which direction this revenue is going.
J. C. Hagan, 509 Cool Meadows: Mr. Hagan said that Allied Waste collected the trash and recycling a day earlier than the published holiday schedule, which means that a lot of people did not get their recycling items picked up. He said that city crews have done crack sealing in his subdivision. If the concrete had been overlayed and there were cracks in the asphalt overlay, they did a good job. The streets that are concrete had to have asphalt strips that are 2 or 3 inches wide. He said the concrete streets are worse with the crack sealing than they were before the sealing was applied.
Robert Klein, 2452 Capitol Landing: Mr. Klein said spoke about ethics in government. He said that during the April 6, 2010 election in Ballwin, he submitted a notification to the City as to the qualification of one of the candidates, Jane Suozzi. He said that she possibly was not qualified to run for election due to non-payment of property taxes on time. He asked if the candidates are reviewed by the city to make sure they are qualified to run for election. He said that the result of the election was that Mr. Markland won by a landslide vote against the candidate. Had the election results been the other way, many citizens would have challenged Ms. Suozzi’s qualification. He asked what is the process for screening the candidates? He said that now the same person is being brought back into Ballwin government. There were questions previously about this candidate with no resolution and now she has been appointed to another position of authority within our government.
Walt Young, 634 Lemonwood Drive: Mr. Young spoke about the Estates at Hallmark Place subdivision. He said that the developer is making a comparison with the subdivisions to the south and west. He said that those subdivisions were approved prior to Ballwin annexing the property. This is not a balanced comparison. The subdivisions were approved by St. Louis County government zoning requirements. The homes are huge on very small lots. Now the developer wants to construct large homes on smaller lots. He asked the Board to carefully review the request.
Connie Oster, 743 Stoney Creek Drive: Ms. Oster spoke in opposition to the Estates at Hallmark Place subdivision. She said that the residents are concerned with the density of the proposed subdivision. The proposed homes are too close. It is an esthetic and safety issue. She said an example of this is that he homes in Windy Acres Estates are too close. In June of this year, one home was struck by lightning. Six homes were affected. Firefighters were going door to door in the event of fire in fear of it spreading. With their expedient efforts, they were able to contain the fire to one home.
Ms. Oster said that another concern is the detention pond for the subdivision. She understands that there is a contingent plan to join the drainage pond at Selvidge Middle School. The residents at the new subdivision will be paying for, be liable for, and maintain that drainage pond. She asked is Ballwin setting precedent by letting this happen? Will builders be able to stick future residents with the burden of potential problems.? A simple solution would be to reallocate the lot sizes to conform to the current ordinance and create less density.
Kim Zimmer, 141 Windy Acres Estates Dr.: Ms. Zimmer said she is in favor of the Estates at Hallmark Place. She believes that the developer has met all of the Planning & Zoning Committee’s requests. She hopes that the Board will vote to approve the subdivision. She said that there is 25 feet between her house and the house next door. This distance can vary in each subdivision.
Brad Goss, representing Rowles Homes, Inc.: Mr. Goss spoke regarding the Estates at Hallmark Place subdivision. He said the builder will be following the current building code and the set-back requirements. A fire-rated assembly for the walls is required if the distance is 5 feet or less on the side yard setback. There is going to be 18 feet between the homes. This is far in excess of any issue as it relates to a fire problem with respect to the homes to be built at Hallmark Place. He said the code requirement would be a minimum of 10 feet separation with 5 yard setbacks on each lot, for a total of 18 feet. He said there is not a fire risk for these homes. He said the average lot size of the proposed homes in the Estates at Hallmark Place are 7 ½ % larger than those in the subdivision to the south. The average lot size is 7 ½ % greater. He said that comparing with the lot size in Windy Acres, the Hallmark lots are 47.7% greater in lot size. More lots will not be the result of the setback adjustment. This is simply adjusting the size of the lots so that it will fit the full lineup of homes. The homes will be $350,000 upward and will fit well with the neighborhood. The setback adjustment is requested because ground will be lost to accommodate New Ballwin Road, due to the 40-foot setback and the right-of-way. There will not be more lots or more density. He said the school district has stated that they need a detention basin. It will also help the school.
BILL # 3636 - AN ORDINANCE APPROVING THE PRELIMINARY PSD DEVELOPMENT PLAN AND A ZONING CHANGE FROM R-1 AND R-3 TO PSD FOR THE ESTATES AT HALLMARK PLACE.
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Schmer for a first reading of Bill No. 3636. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3636 was read for the first time.
Alderman Terbrock asked for definition of PSD development. City Attorney Jones said that this designation accommodates difficulty in site specific issues such as topographics, side line access issues to allow more flexibility in terms of the number of lots and improvements.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that the PSD designation was created approximately in the year 2000. It was designed to allow difficult sites to be developed. The PSD approach would give flexibility in allowing for unusually shaped properties, use conflicts, and to save of creeks, ponds, trees, etc., in the developments.
Mayor Pogue asked about the installation of fire sprinkler systems in residential buildings. Mr. Goss said that this is not a requirement of the fire protection district. This is by consumer choice. A builder is required to tell the purchaser that they have an option to have a sprinkler system installed and the cost. He said a sprinkler system cannot be mandated, according to the State Statute.
A motion was made by Alderman Boerner and seconded by Alderman Fleming for a second reading of Bill No. 3636. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3636 was read for the second time.
A roll call was taken for passage and approval of Bill No. 3636 with the following results:
BILL # 3637 - AN ORDINANCE PROVIDING FOR THE APPROVAL OF A SUBDIVISION PLAT FOR THE ESTATES AT HALLMARK PLACE AS PROVIDED IN CHAPTER 25 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY OF BALLWIN, MISSOURI.
A motion was made by Alderman Boerner and seconded by Alderman Fleming for a first reading of Bill No. 3637. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3637 was read for the first time.
A motion was made by Alderman Mellow and seconded by Alderman Boerner for a second reading of Bill No. 3637. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3637 was read for the second time.
A roll call was taken for passage and approval of Bill No. 3637 with the following results:
BILL # 3642 - AN ORDINANCE AMENDING RESTRICTIONS ON WEEDS AND VEGETATION.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Markland for a first reading of Bill No. 3642. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3642 was read for the first time.
A motion was made by Alderman Finley and seconded by Alderman Boerner to make the following amendment: Section One (b), 5th line – “there is a building used for human habitation, with the exception that the portions of such land with a slope steeper than 3:1 or portions of such land being too rough to mow due to rock outcroppings or similar physical limitations shall be exempt from this provision.” A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
A motion was made by Alderman Finley and seconded by Alderman Markland to make the following amendment: Section One (f), 8th line: “will result in the area no longer being considered in a wooded state and will therefore no longer be exempt from the vegetation height regulations of this chapter.” A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Alderman Markland said that it is stated what the City shall maintain, but not what the property owner shall maintain. City Attorney Jones said that the paragraph begins with “the owner and/or occupant” of every property, therefore, the duty should not be imposed on the City.
A motion was made by Alderman Finley and seconded by Alderman Fleming as follows: Section One: re-lettering: change “l” for “m”; Section One (new l, old m); (Paragraph break at the end of line five, and then put in the definition section which was used in paragraph (k)); 1 through 4 be listed again, , another paragraph break, at the end of the section elimination of the final sentence of the section..
A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Schmer to hold over Bill 3642 for review, as amended. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
BILL # 3643 - AN ORDINANCE AMENDING THE 2010 BUDGET OF CASH REVENUE AND CASH DISBURSEMENTS FOR THE OPERATING, CAPITAL, TIF AND TDD REVENUE FUNDS OF THE CITY OF BALLWIN, ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI, PROVIDING FOR EXPENDITURE REVISIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SAID BUDGETS AND MAKING RE-APPROPRIATIONS THEREOF.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Schmer for a first reading of Bill No. 3643. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3643 was read for the first time.
A motion was made by Alderman Schmer and seconded by Alderman Terbrock for a second reading of Bill No. 3643. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed. Bill No. 3643 was read for the second time.
A roll call was taken for passage and approval of Bill No. 3643 with the following results:
CONSENT ITEMS: (Budgeted items which are low bid and do not exceed expenditure estimates and/or items which have been previously approved in concept.)
Appointment – Board of Adjustment: Mayor Pogue recommended the appointment of Jason Riegielsberger to the remaining alternate position on the Board of Adjustment. Mayor Pogue said that he served on the Comprehensive Plan committee and has shown interest on serving on the commission.
A motion was made by Alderman Finley and seconded by Alderman Terbrock to appointment Jason Riegielsberger to the alternate position on the Board of Adjustment. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Sewer Lateral Program: Mayor Pogue said in the past, the per dwelling expenditure cap was $3,000. Currently it is $3,500. If the $3,000 cap were reinstated, approximately 15 more residents per year can be reimbursed on this large expenditure. This fund was approved by the taxpayers at $28 per year that they pay into the fund. The waiting list for reimbursement is increasing each year. He said the other option, which he believes would not be successful, would be for the voters to approve increasing the annual contribution.
Energy Grant: City Administrator Kuntz said the first phase of our Energy Retrofit grant award involves adding insulation improvements to 3 of our municipal buildings. As a result of a formal bid process, it is recommended that the Government Center and Police Station work be awarded to Energy Shelter Corp in the amount of $15,700. It is further recommended that the Golf Clubhouse work be awarded to Foam Engineers, who submitted the low bid of $29,000.
A motion was made by Alderman Schmer and seconded by Alderman Terbrock to accept the Energy Grant. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Salt: City Administrator Kuntz said the commercial market sources have been notified of our intention to reject all bids. We can also back out of the municipal co-op commitment. He recommended a reduced purchase of 500 tons. With a late January / early February delivery date, this goodwill gesture at a competitive price will also provide a supplement for the future.
Alderman Markland asked about the written or unwritten agreement. City Engineer Kramer said that there is not any written agreement.
City Administrator Kuntz said that Alderman Terbrock previously asked about surplus amounts of salt. City Administrator Kuntz said that we sold excess salt according to the Board’s authorization.
Alderman Fleming asked if the delivery charge will be the same for 500 tons as opposed to 1,000 tons? City Engineer Kramer said that he did not ask that question. The delivery is based on mileage. Alderman Fleming said that appears there are three options: 1) Vote down the salt purchase; 2) Find out what the delivery charge would be for 500 tons, and provide a price for the salt and delivery; 3) Approve the purchase of 1,000 tons plus delivery. He said that he recommends honoring the commitment to the co-op by using option #3 because at least that much salt will be used. Next year, the procedure could be changed.
Alderman Terbrock asked who will deliver the salt if purchased through the co-op. City Engineer Kramer said that Lange Stegmann will deliver the salt. Alderman Terbrock said that he doesn’t see any reason to purchase any salt at this time.
Alderman Schmer said that there are no ramifications if we don’t purchase any salt. Alderman Fleming said that there are no ramifications as long as salt is not purchased from another source. City Engineer Kramer explained that the barge is not always filled with an exact tonnage. If the barge is loaded slightly heavier, the cities in the co-op need to be flexible to purchase slightly more. It is all based on how much salt is in the barge. Each barge holds approximately 1,500 – 1,700 tons.
City Engineer Kramer said that the co-op sends out a request in May or June for intentions to purchase salt. Alderman Finley said he believes that if the dome is full, there’s no need to purchase more at this time. Alderman Markland said that we have enough salt to last through another year. We currently have 5,000 tons. Salt prices are probably higher in January and February than they are in July. He said that $102,000 was going to be budgeted for salt in 2011. The money can be used in other areas. He asked if there was a large purchase of salt earlier this year. Finance Officer Loehr said that $253,500 has been spent on salt in 2010.
A motion was made by Alderman Leahy and seconded by Alderman Markland not to purchase salt this year. A voice vote was taken with the following result: Aye: Terbrock, Finley, Markland, Schmer, Leahy, Boerner, Mellow. Nay: Fleming. The motion passed by a vote of 7-1 not to purchase salt through the co-op this year.
Street Tree Maintenance: City Administrator Kuntz said in 2010, we budgeted $17,500 for hazardous tree removal (contractual). For 2011, we will need to increase this number if we follow or expand the current policy. As the trees get larger, and if removal is needed, the cost increases. This is a contractual service because we do not have the expertise in-house or the equipment.
Mayor Pogue said that he has received more calls than in previous years regarding potentially hazardous trees. Alderman Markland said that the ash trees are becoming diseased. He said that perhaps this should be included in next year’s budget.
Alderman Terbrock said that trash trucks are scraping the tree limbs on some streets. City Administrator Kuntz said that this could be discussed with Allied Waste.
Alderman Boerner said that the ordinance calls for the City of Ballwin to maintain the trees that the city has planted. It doesn’t call for maintaining all trees in the rights-of-way. If we provided a program to maintain the trees in the area between the street and sidewalk, this will cost a lot of money. It should be determined if the city has any legal liability from not maintaining the trees. If there is a diseased tree between the sidewalk and street, and if it falls over and damages a car, will the city be liable? City Attorney Jones said that the city could be liable if it is a known problem.
Alderman Terbrock said that it was his understanding that staff was to be given direction to continue services as they are at this time. Alderman Fleming said that if we continue as the program is currently operated, we will not be acknowledging a problem that exists. He recommended that this be reviewed by the Parks & Recreation Committee. The Board agreed.
Street Light Funding Request: City Administrator Kuntz said the St. Louis County Municipal League has requested financial assistance to fight a new AmerenzUE rate hike proposal that will affect municipal street lights. They have asked for a contribution of 1% of our annual street lighting budget to defray the costs of a rate study. This equates to $4,194. He requested direction from the Board.
Alderman Schmer said that normally it is $200,000 or $400,000 that comes back to the budget. For some reason, this went up to almost $1 million. He said we are really padding our budget, or really efficient. City Administrator Kuntz said that a complete explanation will be provided.
Alderman Finley asked for City Attorney Jones’s opinion on this issue. City Attorney Jones said he believes that no city would have been successful on their own to fight the increase. He believes that this is worth pursuing again as a group.
A motion was made by Alderman Terbrock and seconded by Alderman Schmer to contribute the 1% of the annual street lighting budget to defray the cost of a rate study with the St. Louis County Municipal League. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous result and the motion passed.
Sign Request: City Administrator Kuntz said the owner of Gordon Plaza has requested a second sign to promote space for lease at this plaza. Since this will require an amendment to the sign code, direction from the Board is requested.
Assistant City Administrator Aiken said that the current ordinance allows every plaza to have one sign that is 32 square feet. This is an old provision dating back to the early 1980s when the code was written. As long as the parcel is over one acre, the same size sign is allowed. Signage inside the window does not fall within the sign code because it is inside the building. He said that there could be a lot of additional signs due to the amount of vacant space if this code provision is increased.
Alderman Schmer said that he does not see any reason to change the code. City Administrator Kuntz said that too many signs have a cluttered appearance. He suggested that the door not be opened any wider.
Mayor Pogue said that he has received concerns from residents about the pulsating signs. They are concerned that Manchester Road will look like the Las Vegas strip. City Administrator Kuntz said that scrolling message signs are acceptable, but not pulsating message signs. This could be discussed at a future meeting.
Alderman Terbrock said that he would not be opposed to a moratorium on such signs until this can be properly evaluated.
Alderman Fleming said that he is in favor of a moratorium, however, this should be handled carefully. In the past, there was a moratorium on new auto dealers. An expansion of an existing auto dealer was presented. If there is a moratorium on new signs, someone may take down their current sign and replace it with an electronic sign. It will be called a replacement of an existing sign. He asked that City Attorney Jones make sure the moratorium is tight and how long can it be in effect. City Attorney Jones said that the moratorium should be adopted as an ordinance.
A motion was made by Alderman Schmer and seconded by Alderman Fleming to draft legislation for consideration for a 90-day moratorium on new electronic message signs. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous result and the motion passed.
Policy Manual: City Administrator Kuntz suggested that the Policy Manual review be postponed until after the Budget preparation is completed.
Next Budget Work Shop: City Administrator Kuntz suggested that at the next Budget Work Shop, the Capital budget presentations be made, and for City Engineer Kramer to present a list of projects for supplemental funding. This will have a reserve fund impact. The Board agreed to resume the Budget Work Shop on September 27 at 5:30 p.m.
CITY ATTORNEY’S REPORT
New Location: City Attorney Jones said that on October 1, he will be merging into the law firm of Curtis, Heinz, Garrett & O’Keefe, P.C. The service delivery to the City of Ballwin will be the same.
Sewer Lateral Case, Adams vs. Vergonza: City Attorney Jones said correspondence was received from the Court of Appeals. The settlement judge would like to have a settlement conference with the parties. The consensus among the cities is to participate in the settlement conference to determine if anything can be gained from it.
Clayton Corners Development & Incomplete Improvements – Status of the improvement bond: City Attorney Jones said that he met with the developer, who is the successor developer, and their attorney. A bond for $70,000 was posted in 2003. The streets have not been overlayed to a completed state for acceptance by the City; the curbs and gutters have deteriorated; there are a number of other items which are failures in the product or process of what was installed. The developer has been contacted about completing the items that are incomplete. The developer and attorney have said that there are things that have been completed that should be released from the bond. Today, a communication was received threatening to sue the City because we haven’t released a portion of the bond for those items that are complete. He said there is a State Statute which requires us to give line item releases for certain completed items. There is another portion of the statute that says this does not apply to maintenance bonds. Our bond is both completion and maintenance. There is a question as to what is the requirement to release this escrow and what the City is required to do. For about $28,000, the developer said that he can complete the curb and gutter repair and overlay the streets. What he would like is for the City to approve a partial release of the bond as to $28,000. He can then go to his lender who apparently has put up cash to back the bond with the surety. He will take that cash and do the overlay and replace the broken curb and gutters that need repair. He said there are a number of ways to approach this. Since we have been threatened with litigation, we can go into closed session to discuss in more detail about the merits of their claims. If the Board is inclined to allow them to reduce their bond by that amount, and they use the funds to make the repairs, he said he can talk to their attorney about this option. City Attorney Jones said a replacement bond would be necessary with a memorandum of understanding that states how the money may be used. It would also state that these other items are still outstanding. All of the liability would not be settled under this bond at this time. The items that need to be repaired and completed are in excess of the amount of the bond.
City Administrator Kuntz said that if we called the bond for the purpose of resurfacing the street, the language in our bond is so archaic that the City would have to do the work, and then file for a claim of judgment to get reimbursed. If it is done as City Attorney Jones has proposed, the contractor who cooperates with us gets a release of sufficient funds for him to do what he can do cheaper and better. We don’t want to minimize the fact that we are still, not holding sufficient money to get everything perfectly up to standards. There may be some compromises that have to be taken. He said that the residents have lived there for 5 years with this situation. This will provide immediate relief. It will also enable the City to plow the snow.
City Attorney Jones said that we don’t have a way to call the bond. The bond is set up so that if the work is not done, we either have to get together with the surety, who will then take bids and commission the work and get it done, or do the work ourselves and then make demand on the surety to get it back. Following the bond to its terms does not accomplish getting the work completed.
Alderman Fleming said that he and Alderman Leahy were not aware of possible litigation. The residents did not communicate to the developer in April, therefore, he feels that they should not be responding in this manner. He said the streets in Clayton Corners should be completed as soon as possible. Alderman Leahy agreed with this approach.
A motion was made by Alderman Boerner and seconded by Alderman Schmer to accept City Attorney Jones’s proposal for the Clayton Corners streets. A voice vote was taken with a unanimous affirmative result and the motion passed.
Alderman Markland said that City Attorney Jones attended a convention at the Lake of the Ozarks with the Municipal League. He said there was one item towards the end of the report regarding changes in ethics or conflict of interest. He asked City Attorney Jones to provide a report on this at the next Board meeting.
Accounting Software: Alderman Fleming said that New World software was reviewed at the City of Chesterfield. He said the Chesterfield staff is happy with this software and it was purchased and installed incrementally so that the entire package was not purchased at one time. It was decided not to put the purchase of new finance software in the 2011 budget, and to continue reviewing other software for a future purchase. He said it could be 6 months before a recommendation is possible.
Ethics in Government – Candidate filing: Alderman Markland said that in response to Mr. Robert Klein’s statements during Citizens Comments, the Board of Adjustment has to be a very ethical Board. He said that ethics and the perception of ethics is important. He has a problem with the person that was approved to serve on the Board of Adjustment at the last meeting. She knew that she had not paid her taxes when she filed as an aldermanic candidate in December. On January 1, she knew that she was delinquent. According to State law, that disqualifies her from running for office. On election day, she knew that she was delinquent and she still said nothing to anybody. He said this is not an ethical way of doing business and is not a good representation of the City of Ballwin to almost reward that type of operation. He said this should be revisited. It is wrong.
Alderman Fleming thanked Alderman Markland for addressing Mr. Klein’s questions. He asked who decided that this candidate should be able to run for re-election? How does the City check candidate eligibility? He said that the city doesn’t check on this. The candidate signs a form stating that they are in compliance with the election law. He said the Election Board should investigate this. It’s not incumbent upon the city to investigate the candidate status. The city did not neglect its duty because it is not our duty to check on this. City Attorney Jones said that he believes this is correct. Alderman Fleming said that since the Election Board did not tell us that there was anything wrong, we are to assume that it was right. He said that he understands that this is the limit of our authority.
City Attorney Jones said that our City Clerk distributes to the candidates the appropriate forms and information provided by the Board of Election Commissioners, Missouri Ethics Commission, and the St. Louis County Municipal League. The candidate reads and signs all of the forms before they are officially a candidate for election. The forms are then turned in to the City Clerk for processing and the information is forwarded to the Board of Election Commissioners for ballot preparation.
Alderman Fleming said that other than signing the forms, the City of Ballwin does not require candidates to provide proof of payment of all taxes. He said that if someone believes that a candidate is in violation of the State Statute, it should be discussed with the Election Board. City Attorney Jones said this is correct.
Alderman Boerner said that a serious accusation has been made against a candidate, but it is not known if this truly was a violation. He asked what is a violation in this instance? As a city, it’s important to know if non-payment of property tax is a violation of State law in terms of qualifications to run for public office in a municipality. City Attorney Jones said that at this time, he does not know if non-payment of property tax is a violation, or the statement that the candidate makes by signing the form is a potential violation. He said he will research the State Statute to determine if this is a violation.
Mayor Pogue said that it should be determined if someone can file a complaint with the St. Louis County Board of Election and they would be the entity in charge of making this determination. City Attorney Jones said that it is his understanding that this is the Election Board’s responsibility. Alderman Boerner said he would like to know if the non-payment of tax issue is a violation for candidacy. He said that if this is an issue, he wants to know about it for future reference.
A motion was made by Alderman Boerner and seconded by Alderman Markland to investigate the non-payment of taxes as a candidate violation. A voice vote was taken with the following results:
Adjourn: A motion was made by Alderman Fleming and seconded by Alderman Schmer to adjourn. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned at 9:29 p.m.
TIM POGUE, MAYOR