Shine a Light on City Government
Shine a Light on City Government
Friends & Neighbors,
It has been more than 4 weeks since my last report to you. We have held two Board of Aldermen and two Planning & Zoning meetings, so there are several things to report.
Town Square Avenue Street Signs
Last spring the City changed the name of Highway N between Bryan Road and I-64 overpass to Town Square Avenue. We ordered new street signs with LED backlighting which were recently delivered and installed. Our goal is to associate Town Square Avenue with Dardenne Prairie Town Square Shopping Center. We intend to have an “event” to commemorate the installation of the new street signs to help publicize Town Square.
Property Tax Rate Unchanged
The Board voted to keep the property tax rate at 10.25 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, same as last year. Dardenne Prairie’s city property tax is the lowest of any city in St. Charles County, except Weldon Spring which has no property tax.
Repairs at Bluebird Meadow Park
Work will commence very soon to repair portions of the walking trail and parking lot at Bluebird Meadow Park. There will be some days when access to the trail will be blocked to allow asphalt and sealer to cure. We expect the work to be done by early November.
Arden Pointe Residential Development
A minor amendment to the Planned Unit Development was approved by the Board. This development will comprise 23 detached villa homes located on Highway N, east of the Elementary School. The construction site is undergoing rough grading now.
The Courtyards at Barathaven
The Board approved the rezoning of 11 acres along Technology Drive next to the Barathaven subdivision from C-2 Commercial to R-1D, residential and approved the area plan for 47 single family, detached villas, similar to those being built at the Courtyards in Cottleville.
A Conditional Use Permit was Approved for a CBD retail store
A business which sells CBD products will be opening at the Town Square Shopping Center in a space next to Pub ‘N Grub. This store is not permitted to sell marijuana.
Comprehensive Plan Ready for Final Approval by Planning & Zoning
A multi-year effort to revise the City’s Comprehensive Plan is expected to be completed at the October 14 P&Z meeting. A public hearing was conducted at the September meeting and a few changes were suggested for property along Bryan Road, Technology Drive, and the 364 Corridor. The Commission was urged to adopt additional language that would open the door to mixed use or residential development in what otherwise is currently zoned C-2 Commercial. The primary use of a Comprehensive Plan is to layout a vision of future land use that would guide development within the City. Changes to the 2014 version of the Plan were deemed necessary because of changes traffic patterns after the completion of Rte. 364; changes in the brick and mortar retail world; increasing demand for new single-family homes; the continued migration of population into St. Charles County, and the competition for new businesses. The text of the plan to be voted on next week is posted on the City’s website.
Capital Improvement Plan
The Board of Aldermen and City Staff have collaborated on the creation of a 3-year Capital Improvement Plan which was discussed at the October 7 BOA meeting and will be reviewed and voted on at the October 21 meeting. The CIP is designed to identify potential projects, such as street repairs, highway projects, and major equipment replacement and to forecast the City’s expenditures needed to complete the projects. Just like our household budgets, we have more things to do than money to do them so we must set priorities and plan to get the most done with what resources we have available. When I became Mayor in 2015 the City had accumulated millions of dollars in the various fund accounts. The Aldermen expressed the view that such sums had to be spent or returned to the people. Our first step was to develop a Reserve Policy to guide the Board on how much of the funds could be spent and how much should be locked up as hedge against some financial catastrophe. Our Municipal Finance Advisor prepared a detailed analysis of revenues and expenses and recommended that we reserve $1.9 Million. We decided to round that up to $2 Million. We then developed an Investment Policy to guide the management of the Reserve and other funds accumulated in the several revenue accounts. That led the City to invest the Reserve in 3-year Certificates of Deposit at an average rate of about 2.8%. Surplus fund balances were invested in short term US Treasuries. Prior to making those investments, the City was keeping all of its money in bank savings accounts drawing 0.3% interest.
The Fiscal Year 2021 Budget
The City Staff is preparing the 2021 budget for presentation and discussion at the October 21 BOA meeting. We expect a robust conversation regarding spending priorities for next year. If changes are made to the Capital Improvement Plan there will likely be changes to the budget as well. We currently plan to spend over $1 Million to replace broken pavements. We plan to hold a final vote on the 2021 budget at the third week in November or the 1st week in December.
Three Cheers for Kim Clark, City Clerk
A significant portion of our sales tax revenue comes from the Department of Revenue when people register their new cars at the license office and pay the sales tax. We have suspected for some time that Dardenne Prairie was not getting all of the sales tax that should be paid to the City. We hired an outside audit firm to find the “missing revenue” (paid on a contingency basis, i.e., a percentage of the tax revenue recovered). The auditors found nothing. But our City Clerk, Kim Clark would not give up. She prevailed on the Missouri Department of Revenue to conduct an audit and what do you know? The DOR found that Dardenne Prairie is owed over $59,000 in sales tax revenue. Hats off to Kim Clark!! When you register a new car be sure the license office knows you live in Dardenne Prairie. They may tell you that your zip code comes up as O’Fallon, but please be insistent that they record your residency in Dardenne Prairie.
Dardenne Prairie Athletic Complex
Have you driven or walked by the construction site next to City Hall? More than half of the new concrete parking lot has been poured. The new ballfield light poles are being installed this week. We expect the playing fields will be aerated and overseeded after the light poles are completely done and then construction of the restroom building, maintenance garage, pickleball courts, and new fencing will commence. Ribbon cutting will be on or about April 1, 2021, in time for the Spring Baseball and Softball Season!!
Stay tuned for news of more residential development within Dardenne Prairie.
The next meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission is Wednesday, October14 at 7:00 PM. The next meeting of the Board of Aldermen is Wednesday, October 21 starting at 6:00 PM. Come to City Hall and see your City Government at work.
“Shine a Light on City Government”
DAVID C. ZUCKER
City of Dardenne Prairie, MO