Things Heating Up in Pevely

22 Feb

The county edition of the February 21 Leader definitely buried the lede in its article on the latest in Pevely. While it talked about the city’s new health plan for employees, as well as restored limb pickup, it was only in the caption of a photo that the paper mentioned that business at the Feb. 18 board of aldermen meeting ground to a halt when Dave Shelley (my favorite Pevely alderman) “left soon after it started,” depriving the board of a quorum (Ziegelmeyer and Busch were absent, so only half the board was left). Maybe he was planning to leave early, but this sounds more like it was something that happened at the meeting that prompted his exit.

The article didn’t say why he left, and Pevely doesn’t post any kind of agendas or minutes of the meetings on its website that we could use to pin the issue down. Boo to Pevely for lack of openness. Pevely’s website does carry this humorous note:

Due to siuations [sic] beyond the city’s control on February 18th the Board of Aldermen Meeting was cut short. It has been rescheduled for Tuesday March 26th at 5:30 pm.

Pevely was planning to discuss a hike in the gross receipts tax at this meeting (at least I believe so – again, no agenda is available). This would put a surcharge on utility bills, costing Pevely residents an extra $3-8 per month. Shelley had spoken out against this idea, but not for the most inspiring of reasons – he was merely afraid it would doom the April ballot initiative to hike the city’s business license fees. Maybe this subject was the cause of Shelley’s departure.

A lot of taxing going on in Pevely, you say. But wait, there’s more. Pevely already jacked up water rates enough to cost “average users” an extra $11 per month, and sewer rates were increased $18 for residents. Pevely clearly has a problem.

This has garnered a response from the Show-Me Institute, in the form of a pronouncement that the city should disincorporate:

In the past year (plus a little more), three Missouri towns — St. George, Mack’s Creek, and Quitmanhave disincorporated. I particularly like the fact that a town named “Quitman,” well . . . quit. Uplands Park is now considering disincorporation, and another town needs to: Pevely.

Pevely, a small (but not tiny) town in Jefferson County, is having trouble on a number of fronts. It cannot pay for its employees’ health insurance, it cut fluoride from its water to save money, and it is staring down the barrel of a substantial judgment against it from a lawsuit. I am confident the troubles run even deeper.

Many small cities in Missouri, and especially in Saint Louis County, are having trouble providing a base level of services. For most of these situations, the county is better suited to provide local services in a cost-effective manner. Generally, this can be accomplished without raising overall county costs much, due to transferable taxes such as utility taxes, business licenses, state road funds, court fees, etc. (I am defining a transferable tax or fee as one where the tax is not layered. The city gets it if it is incorporated, and the county gets it if it is not.) This is especially true in Saint Louis County, where the sales tax pool comes into play.

Jefferson County has a solid county government system and it should take over services within the community of Pevely. Hopefully, Pevely can become another example of successful disincorporation in Missouri.

I have proposed in the past that Pevely could go in with the county on things like animal control, police, and 911 dispatch. But it sounds like the city wants to be a big boy. Well, look where it is now, raising taxes when it can and begging voters to do so when it can’t. The voters have rejected a number of such proposals in recent years.

On a final note, the aforementioned photo caption said there were over 60 people at this board meeting. It is good to see the residents show up and hopefully share a piece of their mind.

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One Response to “Things Heating Up in Pevely”

  1. alfred February 27, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

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