Talk of the Towns: 3.11.15
Pool play, anyone? The municipality that generates more sales tax than any other has filed suit to get out of the county pool, while others are fighting for it to stay in. Chesterfield has long maintained that it deserves to keep more of the money it pays into the sales-tax pool, which is a penny of every dollar generated from sales taxes paid throughout the county. According to county ordinance, retail-poor towns receive money from the pool, a redistribution based on population. But retail-rich Chesterfield says it is getting the short end of the stick, while others claim they would receive millions less in redistributed tax revenue were the formula, which has stood since the early 1990s, to be changed. One of Chesterfield’s arguments in the suit is that the county’s method of distributing sales taxes violates state law. Chesterfield claims it is unfair to have to pay in 50 percent of the sales taxes it collects, but the county—as well as the cities of Wildwood and Ballwin—have officially begged to differ; that is, they have intervened in the suit, and reportedly towns including Webster Groves, U. City and Florissant also may join the effort to oppose it.
What’s one way to catch a bank robber? Follow the money. In the case of one Cameron Boddie, alleged to have knocked over the Commerce Bank on Delmar Boulevard in U. City, cops say they only had to follow a trail of cash into Clayton. Boddie, apparently, had the ‘dropsies.’ Some of the thousands he got away with a few weeks ago was scattered in people’s backyards. Other bills were in the streets. Cops picked up on this not-so-subtle trail, along with a baseball cap and a prescription bottle of Boddie’s found in a parking garage stairwell near the MetroLink station. Cops caught up with him, still with his hands full of the long green, and arrested him without any trouble near the intersection of Forsyth and Jackson in U. City. He apparently told the officers that he was shedding paper money because he just had too much cash to carry. What a problem to have. At any rate, from Criminal Minds 101, here’s a bank-robbing tip: Take a bag with you, or at least in your holdup note politely ask the teller for one. And don’t forget to ask for large bills only. After his trek of about a mile and a half, cops say Boddie had about $100 left on him, most of it in $1 bills. A saying comes to mind here, and it starts with ‘crime’ and ends with ‘doesn’t pay.’
BRDG Park, the biotech research complex on the Danforth Center campus in Creve Coeur, has welcomed Evogene Ltd., an Israeli company that plans to build a 6,000-square-foot R&D facility there. Evogene, whose specialty is insect control, has partnered with Monsanto across the way (headquarters of the global bioscience giant are just on the south side of Olive Boulevard) for more than 10 years. This initiative, however, will focus on Evogene’s insect control capabilities, specifically the ongoing product programs for corn rootworm and soybean aphids. Company officials say the $10 million project, which could benefit from $200,000 in state incentives, should be up and running by the end of this year. It could be important to note that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who ruffled a feather or two with his unprecedented speech to a joint session of Congress, is rumored not to have had anything at all to do with this development.
Kirkwood schools have not asked for a tax hike in a decade. District officials are mulling over putting a measure on the April 7 ballot, and are surveying residents by phone to determine their views regarding a potential tax increase. In the past few years the number of students has increased 15 percent, according to the district. Meanwhile, revenues have remained flat. Without a tax increase, district officials say they would need to consider cutting programs and services. Class sizes also could grow, which is an athema to administrators as well as parents.
Let there be … a win-win: Skinker Boulevard from Forest Park Parkway to Delmar Boulevard (pictured above) is brighter, in a bona fide retro kind of way, with Wash U.’s recent installation of new street lamps that kind of look like they’re from the 19th century. With a focus on improving the pedestrian experience and enhancing security on the well-traveled street that connects students, faculty and staff with the Delmar Loop and surrounding neighborhoods, the university started planning this about two years ago. The project has culminated in 103 new pedestrian light standards with a vintage ‘gaslight’ look, six blue-light emergency phones, and closed-circuit security cameras on Skinker Boulevard. At the same time pedestrian light standards were being installed on Skinker, St. Louis’ streets department helped improve the existing ‘cobra head’ street lighting. Also, based on university recommendations, the city added two cobra poles, increasing the total to 24, relocating four existing poles to distribute the light more evenly. The university upgraded the cobra lights by replacing high-pressure sodium bulbs with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which require less electricity. Washington U. will maintain the pedestrian lamps, and St. Louis will maintain the street lights, as well as cover electricity costs for all the lights. University officials say the electrical savings from the more-efficient LED bulbs eventually will offset the cost of installing the additional pedestrian lamps. Also in U. City: Groundbreaking for the Loop Trolley is slated for tomorrow, March 12, at Limit Avenue and Delmar Boulevard.
Here comes the judge … hey; it could be you! The St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners, 12 Sunnen Drive in Maplewood, is seeking 400 people to serve as election judges on April 7. This is not a volunteer position—it pays up to $205, including a paid training class. For those who are registered voters and operate on a last-minute basis, they can apply for training through April 1. Candidates would work at one of the county’s 435 polling places on Election Day.
Every town needs a Main Street, doesn’t it? O’Fallon has one, but it is neither all that historic nor eye-catching, residents and business owners say. A recent survey indicates feelings among stakeholders that the area is in decline … and for a town in Missouri’s richest county (see our last issue), a face-lift downtown probably couldn’t hurt. A decade ago an ambitious plan—to the tune of $200 million—was floated, but who knows whether it would have been implemented considering the severe economic downturn in the mid ’aughts. Presently, downtown businesses are being asked to weigh in on ways to raise the bar with changes that would include wider sidewalks, landscaping, benches and signage. Residents and businesses hope that vacant lots will be developed and that more restaurants and other businesses will be attracted.
Webster U.’s chess team is benefiting from a touch of SPICE: the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence. And the program now has room to spread out, having moved from a room in the Sverdrup Building on campus to the main floor of the Luhr Library building, which Webster purchased a few years ago from Eden Seminary. Polgar is the resident grandmaster working to bring chess to more women, and SPICE sponsors a women’s invitational in the summer. Meanwhile, the 20-member, national-champ team could become even more of a power, with plans to double in size. Chess weaklings should be very, very scared.
If you’re going to steal a bunch of items from someone’s home after doing some work there, then try to fence them on Craigslist using your real name—wait a minute, what? Dang, there’s just no understanding some knuckleheads. County cops recently worked a burglary at a Wildwood home in which two guns, some knives, two computers and an iPad were missing. Well, whaddaya know? A few hours later, the crook posted some of the items on the popular website for buyers and sellers. The subsequent sting that cops set up didn’t have to be too complicated. They expressed interest in buying the iPad, and when the suspect showed up to complete the transaction, bingo! In exchange for some of somebody else’s stuff, he’s received a bright orange jumpsuit. Just try to accessorize that, dude.