Bel Nor cites half its residents
Are pine needles scattered on your driveway? Is paint chipping on your home? Are there cracks in your chimney?
In Bel Nor, all of these could be considered a ticket-worthy offense and “nearly half of the property owners in this north St. Louis County hamlet received city-issued notices ordering them to clean up their yards or make a repair to their home.”
- The population of Bel Nor is just under 1,500 residents.
- Bel Nor cited 329 of its roughly 720 properties for violating a city ordinance.
BE IN THE KNOW: Better Together found that the regulatory product of our fragmented structure of government consists of over 52,000 pages of municipal ordinances that govern the daily lives, businesses, homes, and actions of St. Louis’ citizens.
WHY THIS MATTERS: After a law passed in 2015 that lowered the cap on revenue a municipality could generate through traffic fines and fees, several municipalities began raising money from non-traffic violations, like those being issued in Bel-Nor. These are now counted toward the cap as well.
- “We’re already trying to unjam the court system for violations that are a waste of time, not only for us but for the system itself,” Townsend [a Bel Nor resident] said. “To clog it up more with things like this, when families are still trying to survive and make it, is asinine to me.”
State Auditor highlights pay in Wellston
In May 2017, Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway gave the City of Wellston a ‘poor’ rating after conducting an audit of city finances.
- “The Wellston city government is failing its citizens.”
- “The city’s financial condition has drastically declined, and a series of missteps, miscalculations and inappropriate activities continue to lead the city down a path of further financial ruin.”
On a follow-up trip to Wellston this past week Auditor Galloway found only 3 of 19 recommendations have been implemented.
She continued to highlight that the salaries of Wellston city officials are three times more than officials are paid in peer cities.
- Council members are paid $625 a month, or $7,500 a year
- The mayor’s annual salary is $20,000
BE IN THE KNOW: Taxpayers in the St. Louis region spend over $280 MILLION on general administration costs every year. This includes:
- $1 MILLION for mayoral salaries, averaging approximately $13,000
- Over $3 MILLION spent on the salaries of the 563 aldermanic officials
- Nearly $6 MILLION goes to the salaries for the top city municipal administrative position (city manager, administrator, clerk, etc.)
WHY THIS MATTERS: Revelations like those shown in Auditor Galloway’s report prompt the question as to whether St. Louis citizens can afford to maintain and operate so many individual small governments.
- The data shows that fragmentation is not free and that the status quo is neither efficient nor effective.
- Having 88 mayors, 563 aldermen, and over 80 municipal halls comes at a high cost.
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