Florissant Council Adds $1 Million For Parks, Golf Course, Tennis Courts

By Carol Arnett

The Florissant City Council last week passed a bill that authorizes appropriations of over $1 million. Mayor Tom Schneider said this week that he would not sign the bill. However, he will not veto either. By not signing, he allows the bill to go into effect.

Included in the appropriations are $123,451 for golf course equipment, $23,000 for a mower for the golf course, and $26,732 for a professional services required for a new golf car lease, and $196,000 to buy out the current lease and purchase a golf cart fleet for the golf course.

In addition, the bill authorizes other appropriations for the parks department: $300,000 appropriated for replacement ball field lights and light poles on filed 5 and 6 in St. Ferdinand Park, $125,000 is appropriated for the removal and replacement of two side by side tennis courts at Tower Court Park.

The media department will also receive new equipment, with the appropriation of $30,000 for the purchase and installation of two new servers. The final appropriation is for $250,000 for contracts for street repairs.

The bill also includes a section stating that:  “the appropriation of finds and authorization to purchase, and issue payments for work, services and equipment in the bill is contingent on the review and approval of the City Council of all contracts, recommended proposals, negotiated agreements, recommendation of award to bids, as well as the scope of work and specifications for these projects.”

This section is not usually included in appropriations bills, and caused some discussion by the council.

Councilman Mark Schmidt moved to remove the section. “We don’t need it; we can work with the administration,” he said.

Councilman Pat Stinnett said he did not want to remove it at the last minute. He said that the council had worked to complete the appropriations in a timely manner, and to remove it, “we would have to go back to work sessions, and have a two week delay in approving.”

“Why now?” Councilman Tim Lee asked. “I thought we were in agreement. Everyone’s name is on the bill,” he told Schmidt. Lee said that the council had discussed the bill at length in several meetings. “I’m taken aback that you did this after all these meetings,” he said, questioning why Schmidt did not bring the matter up sooner.The motion failed, with only Schmidt voting yes.

The section was cited by Schneider as one of the reasons he was not signing the bill

“It is my opinion that by designating a specific purchase option to be used for the purchase of equipment the City Council has moved beyond their legislative authority,” Schneider said in a memo explaining his decision not to sign the bill.

Schneider also had other reasons for declining to sign the bill, he said.

“I object that urgent business was held hostage so that a half baked pet project could avoid a possible veto to help pacify Mr. Stinnett,” he wrote in his memo. He also wrote that the plan to only resurface two of the four courts in Tower Park would make the park “unsightly.”

Stinnett called the mayor’s comments “no more than a political ploy.”

“I’m running for re-election. Mayor Schneider has recruited a candidate to run against me and is openly supporting him.”

As to why only two of the four courts were being resurfaced at Tower Park, Stinnett said it was fiscally prudent. He stated that the city does not have a court with a safe competitive surface. “If these courts are full, then we can do the other,” he said. If not, then the city could look at removing the other two and putting in something else.

Stinnett also said that the appropriations in the bill, including the tennis courts, lights at St. Ferdinand, golf course items, and street repairs, would benefit all residents. He also noted that the council voted 9-0 in favor of the bill.

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