Saturday, January 06, 2007

WARD 8 REPORT - John Gieseke, Councilman Ward 8

Happy New Year to all In Ward 8! The year 2006 was a progressive one for the area and the City. I am going to take a second to recap some of the bigger things that have occurred in 2006 and talk about some of the plans for 2007.

Road Projects throughout the Ward have been ongoing. Many concrete slabs have been replaced on our neighborhood streets. The key is to track and determine if the city is replacing the same slabs and why. The street committee has required that each of the pieces be stamped with the logo of the company replacing the slab. This is done in Milwaukee and works to hold the companies accountable for their work. Concrete and asphalt overlay projects across the ward were completed in 2006. There is still a need to increase the funding of our streets, there are too many that do not meet the standards the City of St. Charles has set. Reconstruction of Elm Street is to begin soon.

The City of St. Charles was the first to pass meaningful legislation protecting your property rights in the county. I sponsored a bill preventing the transfer of private property to another private entity for development. This use of Eminent Domain was on the front page of newspapers and the lead story on the evening news after the Supreme Court ruled that Eminent Domain could be used to help developers take property from private owners and use it for their developments. Property rights are one of the pillars of our country and needs to be protected. In Frenchtown the property of Jerry Kelly, Frenchtown Transmission, Jac’s Automotive were threatened to be taken just to be handed over to a developer who is looking to grab enough privately owned property to redevelop the area. While I don’t disagree with the redevelopment, I don’t think these established businesses that have served our City residents should be forced to leave their property. These companies helped to stabilize the area for years and should be rewarded not threatened.

The developer of Frenchtown and the City can work together without using Eminent Domain to redevelop and bring the Frenchtown neighborhood up to the standards the residents have been working towards.

Development in north St. Charles is really beginning to take off. With the $1.5 Billion investment in New Town we have seen a great deal of money being invested in our area. This progressive attitude towards growing our tax base is needed to ensure that all of our property taxes stay low. This year New Town will bring in added revenues to the property taxing entities not including utility and sales taxes collected. The assessed value of New Town for 2006 is around $16 million. New Town has spurred growth along Elm Street as well as in Fountain Lakes. Rookies Restaurant , SSM Health, US Title, Newco, J Hair Gallery, Lion’s Choice, Doozles, Cingular and AutoBahn have all opened over the past year. Glazer Distribution and Mitek ( a Berkshire Hathaway Corporation) are both under construction and will open in 2007 or early 2008. This mix of business is good for a stable tax base.

In 2006 the Council at the urging of Councilman Bob Hoepfner began giving tax relief to the seniors in our community. The previous council passed a bill I sponsored giving utility tax reductions to all residents. Every year the utility tax is lowered, with the growth in the city we can lower our utility tax and keep the same amount of tax revenue coming into the city. The senior’s receive rebates for their taxes, if you need more information on this program call (636)949-3200. Thanks to the council for passing this relief. We could offer more tax breaks in a same manner but this relief is threatened by the State’s legislation that interferes with local control of our finances.

Yes, 2007 looks to be a year of great progress for the Ward. The New Town at St. Charles will open many new businesses this year. Over 30 businesses owners have committed to open their doors in New Town. This along with Cissel-Mueller, Fountain Lakes, Shockley and the Sansone developments will keep hammers swinging in the Ward.

This investment will continue if the City maintains the infrastructure that supports these developments. Elm Street will see new construction begin in 2007. This road project is a quality of life issue for all of us who travel Elm Street on a daily basis. There is money budgeted for 2007 to take the merge lane on Elm and continue it past McDonald's. Design of both NewTown Blvd and Boschertown road will continue. The much needed stop light at Fox Hill and Highway 94 will be installed this summer.

Upgrades to our waste treatment plants and the replacement of our main sewer line will be completed in 2007 and 2008. The City does need to address the legislation that forces the City to accept any sewer connections that are outside the city. This threatens our ability to annex and to make sure development that abuts the city is up to our standards. If you want to see what can happen to development when city standards are not applied just drive along Elm Point and look at the dump site and quality of buildings that are in the county. Currently we can’t use our sewer treatment to force development outside the city to control quality of development. On top of that anyone outside the city now enjoys more rights than you. They can stop paying for sewer service and the city is prohibited from disconnecting them for two years. If a city resident doesn’t pay you have around 30 days to pay or get disconnected.

I will continue to fight for the residents of Ward 8 in 2007. In the past I have applied simple common sense to issues that we face. This plus a good business sense generally leads the way to good sound decisions for the taxpayers of St. Charles.

John Gieseke