Prop P Meetings Draws a Crowd, Questions

The first informational meeting about the proposed sales tax took place on Tuesday in St. Peters.

The  took place Tuesday night at  in . 

A crowd of nearly 20 people came out to the park for the informational meeting. Before the Aug. 7, vote, the city of St. Peters is trying to make sure voters are informed about the proposed sales tax increase. 

Guests at the forum were shown a video about the background on Prop P and why the city says it needs the money. The Clean Water act is forcing the city to clean up storm water and drainage basins to make sure by the time it empties into the waterways, it is both fishable and swimmable. If the problems aren't fixed, the city faces daily fines. 

The video also broke down how Proposition P came to be. With the city needing $119 million to fund more than 100 storm water projects, an increase of revenue was needed. With a storm water fund of $600,000 a year needing to be closer to $3.9 million to fund the projects; St. Peters needed to close the gap. City staff considered three options: a property tax increase, an additional fee on utility bills or the sales tax increase. The city decided a four-tenths of a cent sales tax would be the way to go.

After the video, City Administrator Bill Charnisky and St. Peters Director of Parks Operations Vicki Phillips took questions from the crowd. Some questions were curious, while others were more pointed.

One resident was concerned that the city would take over her neighborhood lake, thus making it a public lake. Charnisky said that wouldn't be the case. The city would get an easement and would take over the lake on a maintenance level, but the neighborhood would still own the lake.

Unlike in other states where lake, creeks and streams are the domain of the government, Missouri, and St. Peters, have homeowners associations and property owners in charge of maintaining the waterways. Charnisky said that, under the Clean Water act, those neighborhoods and property owners would be required to pay for the mandatory fixes. If they didn't, the city would be forced to sue to make sure the work gets down. 

Instead of facing what he termed an "uncomfortable situation," Charnisky said the city would work out contracts to maintain and fix the problems—much like a power company can come on your property to fix a power line. Charnisky said this actually could help out residents because many pay a tax in charter fees for water maintenance, something the city would now take over. 

The issue of public money for private waterways didn't sell well with Warren Nauman. The St. Peters resident was an outspoken critic at the meeting, challenging everything Charnisky and Phillips said. At one point, Nauman wondered if the sales tax would be too much of a burden on local businesses and would cause consumers to go elsewhere. 

Charnisky said that wouldn't be an issue. While the Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce hasn't endorsed Prop P, Charnisky said they're not coming out against the sales tax. He said that the tax rate in St. Peters would still be low—lower than places like Wentzville. In addition, Charnisky said the sales tax is the best alternative for businesses.

If a storm water fee was added to utility bills, Charnisky said big buildings likes schools and , would face the heaviest burden because of how they're classified. Charnisky said under a fee, Fort Zumwalt schools could face a bill near $100,000. 

Charnisky repeatedly said that the city was looking at a long-term fix that wouldn't just be a Band-Aid. 

Ward 3 Alderman Tommy Roberts was also at the meeting. He said the sales tax puts the least amount of burden on residents. He gave an example of someone owning a $100,000 house in the city. If a property tax increase were applied, only a temporary solution, the resident would pay $164. To pay that much in sales tax, the resident would need to spend north of $37,000 in the city. 

Nauman asked more questions about tax rates. He said he thought residents were taxed enough. After a series of questions, another attendee at the forum stood up and told Nauman to just shut up. After the meeting Nauman said his mind wasn't changed.

"No not really," he said. "I still had more questions, but I was told to stop asking. ... I strongly oppose using public money for private things."

Nauman said he plans to attend more of the scheduled meetings. After Tuesday, five more meetings remain. All meetings start at 7 p.m. The dates are:

  • July 12—St. Peters Senior Center
  • July 17—
  • July 19—
  • July 31—
  • Aug. 2—

In the end, Phillips said she was pleased by the turnout, and the questions. 

"I like that people had a chance to ask controversial questions," Phillips said. "It gives us a chance to dispel rumors and diffuse some of the silliness."

J. B. July 12, 2012 at 01:40 PM
"Nauman wondered if the sales tax would be too much of a burden on local businesses and would cause consumers to go elsewhere. " You better believe it. This guy has it right. As a St. Peter's small business owner I certainly know I can go shop by my parents at South County Mall and pay 4.725% or go to the Mid River Mall Tax District and pay 8.050%. With this proposal, Some places in St. Peters would be as high as 8.450%, others 7.95%. You can bet this effects my business and the City's comments show all they are interested in is revenue, not reining in their bloated budget. Just because the do-nothing Chamber hasn't come out against it proves nothing. The Chamber is St. Charles centric, no longer focusing on St. Peters anyway.
Jaycen Rigger July 12, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Clean Water Act - There you have it. Bureaucratic monsters at the EPA screwing another small city. Now, our rainwater isn't pure enough? Seriously? I've volunteered during Clean Streams in St. Peters for the last several years. Other than the junk and litter that gets swept into the streams with the rainwater, there's nothing wrong with the water. No tax increase, and tell the Feds to shove it.
Joe Barker July 12, 2012 at 03:28 PM
J.B. -- That South County Mall sales tax seems pretty low. Just looking around online, I've seen the rate as 6.925 percent (https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/content/15231/how_the_sales_tax_adds_up_differently_depending_on_where_you_shop_)
William Braudis July 12, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Come on guys and gals, Saint Peters has taken care of us like no other community so it's time to repay our City Government ( and ourselves ) and vote ' YES ' on Prop., P
Kevin Lane July 12, 2012 at 04:13 PM
William, you have taken care of you, not the city. They are your employees. They use your money for everything they've done to "take care" of you, now they want more. Just a reminder, this is a federal mandate, an additional tax for those who make less than $250,000/yr. Sounds like the direct opposite of what we were promised, doesn't it?
Fred Oompahloompah July 12, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Only 20 people (a crowd?) showed up at the meeting. Do the majority of the residence care? We know it is another money grab by the BoA. $$$$$$$$!!!!
William Braudis July 12, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Oh those nasty people at City Hall.
William Braudis July 12, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Hey Kevin Lane .... if City Hall are our employees then why don't you go there tomorrow and fire them all ?
J. B. July 12, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Nope. Unincorporated St. Louis County. 4.225% + .5% for Metrolink = 4.725%
Fred Oompahloompah July 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM
William Braudis 1:31 pm on Thursday, July 12, 2012 Oh those nasty people at City Hall. No, just smart and stealthy! My lawn dies for lack of water while their coffers over flow with cash. How much of this money makes it to its promised destinations and how much ends up "else where"? Time for another Board of Alderman scandal! It has been a while!
Joe Barker July 12, 2012 at 10:09 PM
The address for the South County Mall is 18 South County Center Way St. Louis, MO 63129. According to the Missouri Department of Revenue site (https://dors.mo.gov/tax/strgis/input.jsp) that adress has a sales tax of 6.925 percent. The same site shows Mid Rivers Mall as having a rate of 8.55 percent.
J. B. July 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Yes, I checked that after your comment and you are right, they added a couple after I quit working down there. Still a 2.5% difference and would be 2.9%. Just so, as another publication put it the St. Peter's Park Manager, 'doesn't want to say no'. Wondering how much this really works out per visitor to Lakeside 370? That is what this is all really about. The stormwater part is a Red Herring. Since the State statue allows for an 'up to .5% local sales tax for stormwater and parks', the City is injecting the stormwater discussion to cloud things up. It's the grandious and unrealistic plans for 370 that are the real issue. Ever wonder why for over a year, the City has wasted a lighted 'scoreboard' sign at the entrance? Are they renting it? Do they own it? If so, how many thousands of Dollars are wasted on that when a simple 'ol street sign would work just fine.
katie July 13, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Another money grab. So tired of a bottomless budget being handed down for me to foot the bill. The fleecing of the citizens continues.
William Braudis July 13, 2012 at 05:04 AM
Where did you wizards come from ? Each of you are ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, from the city of Saint Louis. And voters believed that if the Metro was extended in to Saint Charles County people like you, democrats, would not contaminate this County.
William Braudis July 13, 2012 at 05:33 AM
Freddy, I am not saying that your comment is stupid I am only saying that you have a real problem with understanding issues.
will July 13, 2012 at 10:49 PM
do those clowns at city hall really think we are gullible enough to believe that if we raise our sales tax to the same level as the highest surrounding areas, that people will drive from near and far to shop here and just to help us pay our bills? with the high fuel prices, they too will probably shop close to home. So, don't be misled, it is the residents who will be paying those higher taxes forever and the city will continue to spend frivilously..
Hank Hermosillo July 14, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I have lived in St Peters over 31 years. I have watched our city grow and prosper. It has grown and prospered because we have grown and prospered. I truly believe that the city has been a good steward and spent our money with our welfare in mind. I for one am in favor of spending money to continue to improve our infrastructure.
William Braudis July 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Mr. Hermosillo, wonderfully stated. It is the people who are new to Saint Peters after moving from saint louis city who's I.Q., does not allow understanding of things that are good for our city and that which are not. Unfortunately it is saint louis democrats making the majority of these negative comments about our Government. By the way I wonder if that gentleman fired City Hall yet, after, all they do work for us.
jim thompson July 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM
The parks and storm water should have Nothing to do with each other. I have no problem with fixing the storm sewers. The city of st.peters needs to learn how to budget OUR money better. Lakeside 370 and the park seem to be a colossal waste of OUR money. An RV park, here?
Jaycen Rigger July 14, 2012 at 04:49 PM
William Braudis, Your name-calling and insults are rude, childish, and reek of logical fallacy. Your assertion that those who oppose government spending are Democrats is simply ludicrous. For the last several years, both major parties have been spenders, but it's Progressives who lead the charge, and the Democrats have a big lead in Progressive membership. The city is planning to appropriate private property, take more of our income, and blame the EPA for having to do it. It sickens me that American citizens told another citizen to shut up - unless the guy was soaking up time. Everyone should have gotten time to talk. What's more ridiculous is William's assertions and his Statist view that tax paying citizens OWE the city ANYTHING. That sounds like communist collectvism. That's pure evil.
will July 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
according to information provide at the meeting, city government is not "currently" planning to appropriate private property. They are however planning to use public tax money to "...repair, maintain, and improve private property" . No criteria was provided at the meeting for how these properties would be selected. It was my personal take that those homeowners or associations who had failed to properly maintain their property for whatever reason and as a result were causing erosion or pollution problems would now have the burden of that maintenance transfered to the taxpayers and still retain full ownership rights to the property. It seems to me to be something of a socialistic approach.
J. B. July 15, 2012 at 04:28 AM
If it weren't for people like me, buying a commercial building and moving my business to St. Peters, your City wouldn't have diddle. Higher taxes do not lead to growth and prospering. Look at all the vacant commercial and retail here. Much of it has never had a tenant. Increasing the cost of business (and the cost to customers) sure won't get those spaces filled and until they are filled, the tax base will not increase. Deal with the City on a business level and you'd see the endless layers of beaucracy and waste. I specifically picked St. Peters six years ago because of the lower cost of doing business. That benefit is quickly waning and if it does, even more businesses will leave St. Peters. All for the money pit known as Lakeside 370. Oh, and there is the new Jail, an Art Center sparsely used, etc. etc.
ned pauley July 16, 2012 at 03:54 PM
The city government and staff need to get the message-the taxpayers are tired of seeing our money continually wasted and many times approved after the citizens have been fed inaccurate information. Mr. Braudis needs to look how our elected officials spend our money on things such as ridiculous contracts(cited by the State Auditor), the questionable spending by the mayor on city credit cards(cited by the State Auditor), Giving the EDC thousand and thousand of our tax dollars based upon bogus numerical data(admitted by the vice president of the EDC), the failure of our board to continually fail to put our legal service needs out to bid, trips by elected officials to D.C. and the aldermen are told by the Mayor to go "sightsee" while the taxpayers pick up the tab for the trip, the promise 6-7 years ago by Bill Charnitztsky that Lakeside 370 would produce something like 10,000 jobs for the residents of St. Peters, the wasting of our taxpayer funded resources spent on things such as the Stein police report that failed to list the name of the witness, the name of the other person in the vehicle(does that cause one to wonder why only 2 people were given employment contracts?) By the way, the mayor is the one that told me about the report lacking vital information, how about the taxpayers paying for the meals on meeting nights. Now tell me Mr. Braudis, can you tell me in all honesty that we should give one more hard earned cent to this city government? Ned Pauley
Jonh July 18, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Check this out,St. Peters approves the 370 spencer innersection improvement. They build it. Before they evern open it, they redesign it and build it again. Before they even open it after the second rebuild they approve $25000 to design it again. Who are the dummies? Who is wasting our money? I asked my alderman about it. His exact words where "it''s not our money is the state and counties money" I asked him who pays state and county taxes? He said nothing
Fred Oompahloompah July 18, 2012 at 05:23 PM
If the PTB want your property to run a super highway through it, build a factory, build a mall, what ever they desire they will take it. Just ask the people who had homes on Spencer Road and had their homes bull dozed for a wider street (Mexico Road to Willott. They did not want this, the majority of the St. Peters residence found this to be ludicrous and put fears into their hearts, who will be next. These people were paid a pittance for their property under eminent domain and all their crying and begging televised with their weeping children clinging to their mother's skirt, to keep what they work hard for was ignored. The city got what it wanted. Your home and property could be next on their screw the residences of St. Peters we the elected officials want what we want and we are going to take it from you. Pack up your stuff and move out because another strip of concrete is coming through your living room or a Box Store is going to replace it! $$$$$$$$$ more $$$$$ for a better city? Face it, even with all the "new bossiness" this place is still a cow town even with out the pastures, farms and production of produce! At least my favorite Walmart, Dierbergs, lawyer's office, Burger King, DQ, Chang Wong Dong Chinese take out, Home Depot, Lowe's and what not are only a 5 minute drive for most residence. Where is the WiFi we were promised. OOPS they forgot about that even though I think they run it in some parks to pacify us at our kids ball games. Watch the game doof
will July 21, 2012 at 02:38 PM
Don't be misled. There seems to be a misconception that this is some new "federal mandate". The Clean Water Act was passed during Richard Nixon's presidency in 1972, it was amended/updated in 1977 and again in 1987. Our city planning dept. was or should have been aware of its provisions long before 2010 yet they continued to encourage and approve ever denser zoning (and still are), creating more impervious surface areas and reducing the amount of "green space"; all this for the sole purpose of expanding their tax base and growing their budget. The rainwater from all these newly paved surfaces has to go somewhere. You'd think that with all of our "professional" planning staff, somebody would have seen this coming. From time to time various citizen groups would try to warn local elected officials that we were on a collision course that would ultimately create more costly problems. They were generally dismissed as "crackpots" whose sole purpose was to "impede progress". Most, if not all, usually abandoned their efforts out of frustration from dealing with local bureaucrats. Once again, we, the taxpayers are being threatened with higher fees if we don't approve more tax money to fix the problems that government created. We are being given the "promise" that this time the government wants to help and will fix it right.


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