Jul 28, 2014

Former Alderman Questions Public Money to Plow Private Streets

Former Lake Saint Louis Ward 1 Alderman Larry DeGroodt pointed out a possible legal issue with a new bill at Monday's board meeting.

Former Alderman Questions Public Money to Plow Private Streets

A former Lake Saint Louis alderman is questioning the constitutionality of a bill that was up for a first reading at Monday night's meeting.

Former Ward 1 Alderman Larry DeGroodt stepped up to the podium during the public comment time.

"Bill 3270 . . . would use public money to maintain private streets owned by private organizations," DeGroodt said. DeGroodt specifically called out Ward 1 Alderman Tony Zito for conflict of interest as part of a homeowner's association that would benefit from the bill's passage.

DeGroodt cited two articles of the Missouri State Constitution: Article X, Section 3, which states:

Taxes may be levied and collected for public purposes only, and shall be uniform upon the same class or subclass of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax. All taxes shall be levied and collected by general laws and shall be payable during the fiscal or calendar year in which the property is assessed. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution, the methods of determining the value of property for taxation shall be fixed by law.

and Article VI, Section 23, which states:

No county, city or other political corporation or subdivision of the state shall own or subscribe for stock in any corporation or association, or lend its credit or grant public money or thing of vlue to or in aid of any corporation, association or individual, except as provided in this constitution.

"I would like to see a motion on the floor tonight to remove this bill from the agenda, never to see light of day again," DeGroodt said.

When the bill came up in new business, Ward 2 Alderman Kathy Schweikert made a motion to remove the bill from the agenda. "This has come up every year for the past three years I've been on the board. Some of the streets aren't wide enough . . . some have a gate or a guard shack. We should not be spending public money for snow removal on private streets. They made the decision to be private," Schweikert said.

Only she and fellow Ward 2 Alderman Karen Vennard voted for the bill's removal. Ward 1 Aldermen Ralph Sidebottom and Tony Zito and Ward 3 Aldermen Richard Morris and George Rich voted against removing the bill.

Vennard then asked for Tony Zito to recuse himself from a vote on the bill, asking him if he was a representative for a homeowner's association that would benefit financially if the bill was passed.

Zito said that he was.

At that point, Ralph Sidebottom asked that the board seek their attorney's opinion about the legality of the bill.

The board's policy is to have only one reading of a bill during a given meeting if any alderman voices an objection. The city attorney said that he would research the issue and have a report by Friday.

The Lake Saint Louis Board of Aldermen had previously heard a report from Director Derek Koestel at their July 16 work session about options available to the city to extend snow plowing service to private streets.


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