Newsletter Issue: November 2019

Download the November 2019 Issue (PDF Version)

Upcoming Meetings

League Membership Meeting
11/22/2019 - 6:30 - 8:30
Green Park City Hall

November 21 Meeting

The November League will be held on Thursday, November 21 at the Green Park City Hall, 11100 Mueller Rd # 6, St. Louis, MO 63123; (MAP).  Refreshments will be served at 6:30 pm. The meeting will begin promptly at 7:15. 

The main business item on the agenda will be the consideration of the Report of the Legislative Affairs Committee to be presented by the Committee  Chairman, Councilman Tim Woerther of Wildwood. The report will be emailed or mailed to members in advance of the meeting. See page 6 for the proposed legislative priorities.

Also on the agenda for discussion only will be a proposed bylaws amendment to increase from 10 to 12 the number of elected members to the League’s Executive Board (exclusive of past presidents).  In addition, the proposal would establish an attendance policy for Board members. This amendment will be voted on at the January meeting.

Program: Missouri American Water’s President Debbie Dewey and Senior Director Operations for St. Louis  County Beth Matthews will provide an overview of the company’s operations and capital investments in St. Louis County, including its program to replace aging water mains, as well as future investment needs. Director of Government Affairs Christine Page will discuss legislation to help the company    accelerate its replacement of aging water and sewer infrastructure throughout the state.

Debbie Dewey became president of Missouri American Water in March 2019. She previously served as President of Indiana and Michigan American Water and has held several key positions in the utility, economic development, industrial and small-business sectors. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Missouri Partnership, and the  Hawthorn Foundation.

Beth Matthews has served as senior director of operations in St. Louis County since July 2019, overseeing the company’s four water treatment plants and distribution system that provides drinking water to approximately one million   residents in St. Louis County. She most recently served as director of engineering for Illinois and Iowa American Water, and has nearly a decade of experience with the company.

Christine Page has served as Missouri American Water’s director of government affairs since 2014, leading the company’s government  relations efforts and legislative strategy. She currently serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, chairs the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Missouri Public Affairs Network, and is a member of the Chamber’s  policy council.

 

 

League Office Moves to Maryland Heights

In late October the League office moved to the Maryland Heights Government Center, 11911 Dorsett Rd., Maryland Heights, MO 63043. The phone number remains the same (314-726-4747) but the fax number has changed to 314-528-8092.

The moved came about because Maryland Heights has extra office space and they could offer the League rent that was considerably cheaper than our leased space. The City  facility also has more available parking and access to meeting rooms that will be available for committee meetings and other League functions. We are grateful for the offer from Maryland Heights and believe this is a win-win for the City and the League.

 

Missouri Hyperloop

Earlier this month the special Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop released a 176-page report, a compilation of more than six months of work. The bipartisan panel consisting of lawmakers, public officials, and private businesspeople was formed in March and tasked with determining whether it is feasible to build a hyperloop in Missouri. The report indicated the need for $50 to $100 million for research and development over the next three years. Additionally, the report suggested Missouri should build a 10 to 15 mile test track at a cost of $300 to $500 million. Two key political leaders supportive of the hyperloop are Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, who chaired the task force, and the Speaker of the House, Representative Elijah Haahr. Other taskforce members include Sen. Caleb Rowden, Sen. Brian Williams, Rep. Travis Fitzwater, Rep. Derek Grier, Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, Director of Economic Development Rob  Dixon, University of Missouri President Mun Choi, as well as a number of private sector leaders and subject matter experts from around the state.

Plans suggest a hyperloop system be built between St. Louis and Kansas City with one stop in Columbia. It is estimated that a one-way trip across the State would take only 30 minutes.  Funding will be a topic of conversation this legislative session.

 

 

October Meeting Synopsis

At the October 24 meeting the membership heard a presentation from Ameren President Michael Moehn. Mr. Moehn discussed legislation  that impacted Ameren’s rates and its impact on customers. SB 564 from 2018 contained a 6% rate cut, a rate freeze until mid-2020 and a 2.5% rate increase cap per year. He noted that Ameren has proposed a “smart energy plan” with $6.3 billion in expenditures but the plan has not yet been approved by the PSC. The proposal included $5 billion to repair aging infrastructure and grid modernization. Mr. Moehn announced that a new $21 million operating center would be opening in North City in the coming days.

He reported that the company is working to create economic development rate incentives for customers as Ameren’s rates are 18%  below the Midwest average. There is also a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.  This will be accomplished by phasing out coal plants.  The Meramec facility will be the first to close.  Ameren will have 700 megawatts of wind energy by 2020 with a total investment of $1.2 billion. This should result in a tax credit for wind power users.  Also under development are additional solar facilities at Lambert Airport and in O’Fallon, MO. There is a greater need for battery storage facilities for these solar sites. He noted that cities and counties could apply for neighborhood solar projects.

Other developments include battery charging stations for electric vehicles along major highways and in  major cities. The hope is to create 1000 new charging ports.  Lastly, Mr. Moehn mentioned that Ameren has had major expenditures to protect existing facilities, with a recently completed project at Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks.

We appreciate Mr. Moehn taking time to meet with League members and thank Ameren’s staff for  hosting the meeting.

Board of Freeholders

The Missouri Constitution requires the appointments by the St. Louis County Executive, Mayor of St. Louis and Governor be approved within 30 days of the certification of the petitions. The process should have been completed by October 23.

As of November 5, the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen has yet to vote on the 9 nominations from Mayor Krewson and the President of the Board Aldermen, Lewis Reed has stated he will not allow the Board of Aldermen to vote until Mayor Krewson agrees to appoint three people selected by the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. The lack of action by the City is a clear violation of the Missouri Constitution.

The certified members from St. Louis County and Governor constitute a quorum and will hold their first meeting on Tuesday, November 12 at St. Louis City Hall.

 

Round 20 Park Grants Awarded

The Municipal Park Grant Commission recently announced the awarding of $8.2 million for 23 park and recreation improvements grants.  Below are the municipalities awarded grants in Round 20:

Municipality                                                   Project                                                   Grant Amount

Ballwin                                                            Ferris Park                                            $525,000

Bel-Nor                                                           Horatio Park Trail                               $265,000

Bel-Ridge                                                       City Hall Park                                       $315,000

Breckenridge Hills                                       Rex Park                                                $311,000

Charlack                                                         Charles Evola Park                              $265,000

Crestwood                                                     Aquatic Center Renovation                $366,270

Dellwood                                                       Recreation Center Roller Rink          $294,726

Edmundson                                                  Edmundson Park                                 $265,000

Ellisville                                                        Bluebird Park Amphitheater              $418,900

Ferguson                                                       January Wabash Park                         $450,439

Florissant                                                     Koch Park                                               $525,000

Hazelwood                                                  Queen Ann Park                                     $463,983

Kirkwood                                                    Aquatic Center Renovation                  $525,000

Maplewood                                                 Aquatic Center Splash Pad                   $370,000

Maryland Heights                                     Westglen Estates Trail                          $525,000

Moline Acres                                              Duke Lanier Park                                   $314,000

Normandy/Pasadena Hills                      1st Responders Park                             $367,900

Richmond Heights                                    Recreation Center Renovation            $370,000

St. Ann                                                         Tiemeyer Park Lighting                       $420,000

Shrewsbury                                                Hartry Park                                             $370,000

Velda City                                                   Municipal Park                                      $35,421

Webster Groves                                         Blackburn Park                                      $200,000

Winchester                                                 Reber Park                                              $234,570

TOTAL    $8,197,209

 

As of this round, 378  municipal grants have been funded totaling over $78 million.  The commission was created in 2000 to award grants to municipalities in St. Louis County after voters approved a 1/10 cent sales tax., which was increased by a 3/16 cent sales tax on 2013.

Also new this fall is the opportunity to submit planning grants at any time during the year, rather than on a quarterly basis. The commission has given the staff authority to approve planning grants so that applicants can begin the planning process sooner. The planning grant application can be found here.

 

St. Louis County Charter Commission

The Charter Commission is made up of 14 members, and it takes 9 votes in order to place any recommended changes to the charter on the ballot.

Two of the most discussed possible changes to the charter were non-partisan elections and   requiring a professional manager form of     government for the County. Both were voted down in October.

Under the charter, the commission has until Dec. 31 to come up with recommended changes to the charter. If at least nine members agree on the revision, those would go to the county voters in April of 2020.

Note, the County Council can place charter amendment on the ballot at anytime, with a simple majority vote of the council.

 

Tax Increment Financing Annual Reports

Municipalities that have created tax increment financing districts are required to submit annual reports to the State of Missouri. These annual reports must be filed online at https://tifreporting.dor.mo.gov/Default.aspx. Municipalities that previously filed annual reports online should have a personal identification number (PIN) from the Missouri Department of Revenue, which is required to use the online reporting system.  Municipalities that have not received a PIN, but need to file reports, may request a PIN at https://tifreporting.dor.mo.gov/RequestPIN.aspx. Section 99.865.1 of the TIF Act requires that these reports be filed no later than November 15, 2019.

Pursuant to the TIF Act, the Missouri Department of Revenue will send a written notice to all municipalities that do not file their reports by November 15, 2019 or submit inaccurate or incomplete reports. If the municipality does not then file its report, or make the appropriate corrections, within 60 days from receipt of the notice, the municipality will be prohibited from adopting any new tax     increment finance plan for a period of five years from the date of the Department of Revenue’s notice.All reports are deemed accepted unless a written objection is delivered by the    Department of Revenue.

Municipalities may verify their past compliance with this requirement at http://app.auditor.mo.gov/TIF/SearchTIF.aspx. Please note that the Missouri Department of Revenue’s online reporting system will only accept reports for 2019. Municipalities that wish to file or amend reports for prior years must submit a paper copy using the form available at http://dor.mo.gov/forms/Tax%20Increment%20Financing%20Report.pdf.

In addition to the report, an annual statement showing the payments made in lieu of taxes received and expended in that year, the status of the redevelopment plan and projects, the amount of outstanding bonded indebtedness and any additional information that the municipality deems necessary must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality.

Please also note that Section 99.865.3 of the TIF Act requires municipalities to hold duly-noticed hearings regarding TIF redevelopment plans and redevelopment projects every five years after their adoption. The purpose of the hearing is to determine if the applicable redevelopment project has made satisfactory progress.

We would like to thank the Gilmore & Bell law firm for providing this information.

 

2020 Legislative Priorities

Local Vote on Local Issues – Legislation has been discussed to place on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to change the government structure of the city-county and municipalities. Residents of other parts of the state do not understand the issues here and have no stake in the outcome, just as St. Louis County residents do not seek to vote on issues in Kansas City, Springfield or other parts of the state.

The League supports local autonomy and opposes legislation authorizing statewide votes on local issues pertaining to individual or limited political subdivisions which would threaten neighborhood stability.

Failure to Appear – Senate Bill 5 passed in 2015 prohibits municipal courts from imposing penalties on defendants who fail to appear in court (RSMO 479.360(6)). Restoration of the authority of municipal courts to induce compliance with bench warrants for the failure to appear is essential to an effective municipal court system.

The League support legislation to provide a mechanism for enforcement of failure to appear.

Collection of Internet Sales Tax – The League urges the Missouri General Assembly to require that all sales and use taxes on sales of tangible property be treated fairly and equitably, whether the sale takes place over the counter, by phone, by mail order, by internet or by any other electronic means.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a 1992 ruling (Quill Corp. v. North Dakota) that held sellers only had to collect a state’s sales taxes if they had a physical presence in the state. The Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair ruled that a state may require online sellers to collect state and local sales taxes when the  seller does not have a physical presence in the state.

The League urges the Missouri General Assembly to enact legislation that allows local and state sales/use taxes to be charged on purchases made from out-of-state sellers, even if the seller does not have a physical  presence in the state.

Further, the League supports the simplification of the sales/use tax statutes to make it easier for out-of-state businesses to remit state and municipal sales/uses taxes. Any simplification of the sales/use tax  statutes shall hold municipalities harmless from revenue reductions until the Missouri General Assembly requires out-of-state businesses to collect and remit state and local sales/use taxes on purchases sold into the state.

High-Speed Internet Overlay District – Several cities across the country have begun the process to install high speed internet services for residents and businesses in an effort to boost economic development.  In Missouri, Kansas City and Columbia have done so with great success.  A collaborative multi-county overlay district would streamline the approval process, lower construction costs and greatly reduce the time needed to install the system.

The League supports enabling legislation to establish a High-Speed Internet District for St. Louis County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County and the City of St. Louis.  The District governing body would oversee the installation, system management, collection and distribution of fees for an inclusive high-speed fiber network.

Missouri Government Expenditure Database – Legislation was proposed in 2018 and 2019 which would require all municipalities to provide to the State Treasurer’s office on a monthly basis, a list of all expenditures for posting on the Treasurer’s website.  This requirement only applies to municipalities and would not be mandated on any other level of local government. A voluntary system applying to all governments is available in Ohio and provides valuable information to the public.

The League supports efforts to establish a local government expenditure database but only if it applies to all governments and participation is voluntary.

Rental Housing Owner Identification and Registration Fee – Absentee property owners may neglect their properties to the detriment of their neighbors.  Initially, such neglect may start with minor issues such as tall grass and trash in the yard.  However, over time these issues may escalate to the point of which the property is unsafe to dwell in and a haven for squatters or other illegal activity. Such nuisance properties create eyesores for neighbors and may lower property values. Absentee owners may reside out-of-state and, in some cases, may have little interest in maintaining the properties. Municipalities need to have the means to contact the owners of these properties.

In addition, cities may have added staff costs for the implementation of such a program and some charter cities have enacted annual landlord fees to recover some of the costs.

The League supports legislative that would provide municipalities with the authority to require owners of rental property to provide contact information for responding to questions or concerns about the property. This contact information at a minimum must include the name, address, telephone number and emergency contact information for the owner of the property. Properties that are owned by individuals or entities that do not reside at that location should be required to have a local contact for the property.

Additionally, all cities should be granted legislative authority to enact minimal fees for landlords to help defray the costs of a landlord registration program or other issues related to rental properties.

 

 

Act to End Deadly Distractions

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety are joining forces to fight distracted driving, which accounted for more than 19,000 crashes in Missouri last year alone.

On October 29, a roundtable discussion was held in Columbia, Missouri entitled, “Act to End Deadly Distractions.” The roundtable panelists included national organizations, state law enforcement, the Missouri General Assembly and other affiliations to discuss strategies to prevent distracted driving. NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg facilitated the roundtable, and the public was encouraged to attend.

Highway crashes are a leading cause of death nationwide, and last year in Missouri, 79 individuals died in crashes involving a distracted driver. But Missouri is one of only two states without an all-driver texting ban.

“This is an exciting opportunity for organizations, officials and safety advocates to come together to tackle this epidemic,” said panelist and State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer Nicole Hood. “We encourage anyone who is passionate about ending deadly distractions to be a part of the conversation.”