Dardenne Prairie officials plan to spend much of the money it has budgeted next year for capital expenditures that include repairing road slabs, installing sidewalks, road project engineering and replacing accessibility ramps along streets.
The city’s Board of Aldermen voted 5-1 on Dec. 6 to approve a $3.68 million budget that includes $886,071 in capital expenditures for sidewalks, expansion joints on streets and engineering expenses; and $750,000 for a contract with St. Charles County for slab repairs, joint repairs and crack sealing on nine city streets. Alderman Dan Koch [Ward 3] cast the lone no vote.
The discussion on spending priorities has gone on for months as the board finalized the city’s 2018 budget. The fiscal year begins Jan. 1.
Aldermen are expected to be slow to pull the trigger on expensive projects even though they are the most significant parts of the budget.
“There was a concern expressed by an alderman that we’re dipping into the piggy bank too generously,” Mayor David Zucker said. “When it comes to authorizing a particular project we will be happy to reflect on it. So the fact that we passed the budget doesn’t mean automatically we’re going to spend it.”
Major capital expenditure includes:
• $50,000 for expansion joints on city streets
• $123,000 in reimbursable engineering expenses on Hanley Road
• $185,000 for sidewalks from Pierside Drive to Winghaven
• $310,000 Stump Road sidewalks
• $180,000 replace disability ramps along streets
The city also has entered into a $750,000 contract with St. Charles County, who will do concrete street slab repairs, crack sealing and street joint repairs on city streets. Those projects include:
• $120,000 in work on Peaceful Valley Drive
• $200,000 for work at Cove at Dardenne
• $120,000 at the Hamptons at Dardenne
• $60,000 of work at Quail Hollow Drive
• $45,000 of work at Canvas Cove
• $85,000 at Dardenne Acres
• $70,000 at Dardenne Meadows
• $10,000 at McCluer Road
• $15,000 of work at Bates Road
• $25,000 in crack sealing work
What the city may not be doing for some months into 2018 is developing park improvements funded by a citywide half-cent sales tax approved by voters on Nov. 7. Known as Proposition P, the sale tax could pay for a new community center and an expansion of park and recreational programs as well as stormwater improvements. The community center and other park amenities may be located on 10 acres that the city owns at the corner of Post Road and Hwy. N; the operative word for now on is “could.”
Zucker and city officials are involved in a public engagement process with city residents and stakeholder groups about exactly how they want the sales tax revenue to be spent.
The city will conduct a series of surveys and community town hall meetings as part of its engagement process. A 12-question survey has been posted on the city’s website at www.dardenneprairie.org. The survey will be up through December. Randomly selected households will also receive mailed surveys with about 10 household surveys sent to each subdivision.
A series of town hall meetings to discuss survey results and gather input is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. on Jan. 23, Feb. 18 and March 5 at city hall, 2032 Hanley Road. The city also plans a series of “stakeholders” meetings for business groups, athletic groups and churches.
Zucker said the city may determine by March if the public engagement period needs to be extended or not. The city will start collecting the new revenue starting in April 2018 and could begin to pay for pre-development costs, such as plans, at that time. Zucker said the first phase of construction may be completed in 2019 although there is no schedule.
According to the approved budget, the city also will pay St. Charles County $325,279 for providing law enforcement services to the city. The city has a three-year contract with the County Police Department; the amount to be paid in 2018, the second year of the contract, is less than the $330,501 paid in 2017.
Zucker said the city be faced with high law enforcement expenses in several years when the city negotiates a new agreement with the county.
The city’s 2018 budget projects revenue of about $450,000from the half-cent sales tax and $491,900 in total for the parks and stormwater fund, but no major expenditures for parks and recreation other than $25,000 to cover youth baseball and softball league expenses, $24,000 for the city’s annual “Prairie Days” celebration, and $18,000 for playground equipment.
A major source of the city’s anticipated $4.12 million in revenue in 2018 is sales tax revenue. The budget lists $1.2 million in general fund sales tax revenue and $600,000 in half-cent capital improvement sales tax revenue in addition to the Proposition A sales tax revenue.
Zucker said sales tax revenue appears to be up this year. Several stores in the city, particularly a JCPenney department store in the Dardenne Town Square shopping center, are having a good business year with heightened sales in a number of products including appliances and makeup.