The first meeting in the new city hall council chambers revealed a new distance between the officials behind the podium and the audience.

The special meeting was held at 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 1.

Alderman Walter Arnette, president of the board, conducted the meeting in the absence of Mayor Herb Adams, who was on vacation.

Two items on the agenda were to set the 2012 tax rate and authorize the city to seek funding through the St. Louis County municipal parks grant program for the purchase of land for a proposed trail system.

No public comments were made during the public hearing on the new tax rate.

Only four chairs were set up in the spacious council chambers indicating that a large turnout was not expected.

The desk and counter on the raised dais dwarfed officials in the empty council chambers, prompting Alderman Ed Gass to comment that the raised counter in front of officials is too high.

An architectural element meant to keep officials safe from those who might intend to harm them may create a barrier between them and their supporters, according to Gass.

“We don’t want to be barricaded from the public,” he said.

Alderman Mike Bates said higher chairs would make officials more visible to the public and might solve the problem, but others worried that Alderman Jerry Eversmeyer, who is 6 foot, 6 inches tall, would find his knees jamming into the desk.

Security measures were high in the minds of building architects, who placed clerks and the collectors behind glass windows.

“The high counter was probably a safety measure,” Bates said.