December 2016 Edition
Greetings and happy holidays!
There are many topics I would like to mention to keep you abreast of changes and improvement within our city and at City Hall.
In furthering our efforts to be transparent in financial matters, there is a transparency portal on the home page of the city’s website. Upon clicking on this tab, the public can gain access to an array of budgetary information including the annual budget, employee salaries, and much more. Transparency for City Council business can be accessed by clicking on Agendas/Minutes. In general, I would add that there is a wealth of information that is posted and periodically updated on the website for those who are able to spend a little time exploring.
Shortly after our newly appointed City Administrator Mike Geisel took over, the City Council and I were provided an economic briefing by our Director of Finance, Craig White. This picture suggested that, although the city is healthy financially, we could no longer continue to spend money in the same manner as in recent years and expect to meet future financial obligations. A series of budget review meetings were scheduled to allow Councilmembers to review our budget in a more in-depth manner. At this writing, it appears that there will likely be a significant reduction in funding of third party organizations or events, especially if a public purpose cannot be clearly identified. Also, following several years of providing employee merit increases well above annual CPI advances, the city may engage a consultant to perform a comprehensive analysis of the total compensation package in relationship to the market.
SENATOR DAVE SCHATZ
The next thing I would like to address is the appreciation all Chesterfield residents should have for State Senator Dave Schatz. With the passage of HB 1561, sponsored by State Representatives Sue Allen and Mike Leara, Chesterfield will now benefit by being able to keep 50% of the pool tax that is generated in our city. Although it was the House Bill that was eventually signed by the governor, Senator Schatz sponsored an identical bill in the Senate that was also passed by both Houses. In my mind, he demonstrated that he is a principled legislator who was willing to spearhead and take on this issue. Due to the fragmented legislative districting, Senator Schatz is one of three senators that represent a portion of Chesterfield. I strongly believe that Senator Schatz deserves the loyalty of Chesterfield voters.
WARD 4 COUNCIL VACANCY
We currently have an anticipated City Council vacancy in Ward 4. Councilmember Bruce DeGroot was the victor in the November general election. We congratulate him and thank him for his service to the city of Chesterfield. Upon Bruce’s resignation, it will be my privilege (with the approval of a majority of remaining Councilmembers) to appoint a successor, who would serve until the upcoming April election. So, if any Ward 4 residents may be interested in serving, please let me know of your interest.
BUS STOP SHELTERS, FINALLY!
After a two and a half year effort, there will finally be eight passenger shelters installed at various bus stops in Chesterfield Valley. These will be funded by the Chesterfield Valley Transportation Development District (TDD) at a cost of $130,432. The TDD is completely separate from the city of Chesterfield budget and has funded many transportation related projects in the Valley and is supported by a 3/8 cent Valley-wide sales tax.
Chesterfield Valley Dome Project
There appears to be a good deal of misunderstanding and mis-information related to the proposed dome project that is being promoted by Mr. Dan Buck and Mr. Mike Matheny. In reading commentaries in various publications, there have been accusations that the City of Chesterfield has not been transparent and is supporting private development at the expense of our parks programs. That is not the case.
The Missouri Sunshine Law requires meetings of elected officials to be publicly posted and to be open to the public. However, under this State Statute 610.021, there are also criteria under which closed meetings “executive sessions" may be held. In very narrow circumstances, the public body can meet in closed session to discuss a very limited number of issues that could not be discussed publicly without negatively impacting lease negotiations or land acquisition prices. It could be very damaging to the public if a seller was made aware of the public body’s acquisition strategy or purchase limitations. This has been the case with the dome project. Specifically, the negotiation of lease or purchase of real estate was discussed in executive session as permitted by the Sunshine Law. City officials were negotiating the terms of a lease and land acquisition to minimize costs and maximize lease benefits. Immediately after the terms were negotiated and agreed to, all terms, details and related information was made available to the public as required by sunshine law.
In this specific negotiation, the City of Chesterfield has not offered, nor will the City offer any financial contribution or subsidy. The City has tentatively agreed to lease land that the City already owns or may purchase. The lease terms provide a reasonable revenue stream to the City to fully recover the original land purchase cost and receive a desirable rate of return on top of that. There is no subsidy, no partnership, and no support of a private development. Chesterfield has no financial involvement other than to lease land which is currently a liability, in exchange for annual revenues that can be used toward maintenance and improvements to existing parks facilities.
I hope this clears up any misunderstanding there may have been! If anyone desires a deeper understanding and personal conversation regarding the project, I encourage you to contact our City Administrator and we'll schedule a time to speak personally and perhaps share a cup of coffee. We would be happy to share any and all details.
As always, don’t hesitate to contact me or one of your Council members if you have any questions or comments!
Mayor Bob Nation