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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 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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