St. Clair officials agreed on Monday that discussion centering on a study of the Highway 47 corridor between St. Clair and Washington as well as a proposed 1-cent state transportation tax that could aid in its expansion can be placed on the back burner for now since a bill that would have placed the issue on the state ballot never made it out of the Legislature this year.
During an earlier board of aldermen meeting, a hearty discussion took place centering on where the city could find $50,000 to help pay for an environmental assessment of the Highway 47 corridor between St. Clair and Washington.
City Administrator Rick Childers told the board of aldermen during that meeting that each of the other entities involved — Washington, Union and Franklin County — also have been asked to pitch in the money so the $200,000 study can be done.
The Highway 47 Corridor Committee has been looking into seeing if the roadway can be widened to four lanes between St. Clair and Washington to ease vehicle congestion and improve traffic flow. The project hit financial snags and has not yet been deemed a priority by the Missouri Department of Transportation.
On top of that, the bill to put the 1-cent sales tax on the ballot for Missouri voters to decide failed to pass in this year’s legislative session.
Initially, the proposal was for a 1-cent transportation tax over 10 years, but there also had been discussion of changing it to a three-quarter-cent tax over 15 years. Estimates state the tax could raise close to $8 billion over the duration.
Before the 2013 legislative session ended, the Highway 47 Corridor Committee, which has members from Franklin County, St. Clair, Union and Washington, said it needed the revenue from the proposed transportation sales tax to fund the expansion of the corridor. But, it also needed money for the assessment study.
During the aldermen’s first May meeting, the board was quick to ask where the city could find the $50,000. Mayor Ron Blum and Childers had no real answer.
“I’m real excited about the potential development of the Highway 47 corridor,” Blum said during that meeting. “I hope it will happen. And, I’d like for us to participate in this assessment, but we just don’t have the revenue like Washington and Union have. General revenue in those two communities is a lot higher, probably four- or five-fold.”
Discussion also centered on whether St. Clair should be asked to pay the same amount for the study as the other three entities since in all likelihood its revenue is significantly less. That prompted the board to ask Childers to look into those revenue amounts, and he reported back to the board on May 20.
He said during the most recent board meeting that in Fiscal Year 2012, St. Clair’s general revenue was $2.079 million, while Union’s was $7.414 million. In FY 2010, the latest year he could obtain figures, Washington’s general revenue was $10.285 million.
“Those entities have somewhat higher revenues than we do,” Childers said.
Blum then said that “with the bill not getting out of the Legislature, I think we have a little more time to decide what to do. If it’s OK with the board, we’ll discuss what to do during our next corridor meeting.”
In other May 20 business, the board approved an ordinance that amended the definition of employees eligible for the Missouri Local Government Employees Retirement System so it conforms to Missouri law.
“This is just another cleanup ordinance to bring the city into compliance with Missouri law,” Childers said.
The ordinance states that the definition of employees eligible for LAGERS is “any person holding the position of mayor or elected member of the governing body of St. Clair in addition to all other employees currently eligible.”
Also, the board reapproved Holy Trinity Lutheran Church’s annual liquor license, which allows it weekday retail sales by package and drink, excluding Sundays.