Even Smaller Town America Gets Complicated

By Jim Pepper, Contributor to US Daily Review.

In the city of O’Fallon, Missouri, the sixth largest city in Missouri, second only to the city of St. Louis in eastern Missouri, political entities are running rampant.

The only thing consistent is the inconsistency of boundaries and lack of community identity in all of this mess. This city of around 80,000 is divided subdivided in piecemeal to death. To start with we have five wards in the city. That is the last common identity this city has. Since redistricting for state representatives, it looks like we will have three. Not one of these boundaries follow any ward boundary in any way shape or form.

Next are political townships we have for covering O’Fallon, boundaries again are different.

Now let’s move on to school districts. We have three school districts with different tax rates:

Fort Zumwalt School District – 4.5968, Francis Howell School District – 5.0008, Wentzville School District – 4.5872 and none of the boundaries coincide with anything else. Fire protection districts are the next ones. We have six. Boundaries? You guessed it, they don’t follow any other previous boundaries and their tax rates are: O’Fallon Fire Protection District (FPD) – 0.5936, Central County Fire & Rescue – 0.8470, Cottleville FPD – 0.6277, Lake Saint Louis FPD – 0.5630, New Melle FPD – 0.4884, Wentzville FPD – 0.4592. Now for some of the utilities. Water districts, we have three Mo-American – 3.19 per 1,000 gal, PWSD #2 – 3.78 per 1,000 gal and one is owned by the city at 2.65 per 1,000 gals going to 2.92 next year. Sewer districts, we have three O’Fallon – 37.15, Duckett Creek – 18.75 per month, PWSD #@ 27.78 per month.

With the exception of gas and electric utilities, the governance of all of these are by election or appointment. Once elected, they disappear into the woodwork. Is it any wonder that we get confused? What is most evident in this mess and when you try to deal with these entities, is the lack of acceptance of responsibility by these “leaders”, but more importantly, no accountability.

Those entities previously mentioned are supposed to provide service to the community but have turned into politicized organizations, either by party or by union’s, or if those two are not true, by personal power.

All of this that I have described, creates confusion. There are higher tax rates and user fees for residents living in different parts of the city and less control by the citizens paying the bills.

When governance can be done like an honest, well run corporation, all will benefit. But until that time comes, small groups or boards will continue to run our basic services like fiefdom’s, with little or no real accountability.

I remember when looking for a place to live, it boiled down to the city and school district. Now, it takes a math degree and a political consultant to pick the best place for your family.

I might add that most of this confusion originally came about as a result of good intentions, when small communities were prevalent outside of the “big” cities and the need for a service was put into place. Well, times and populations have changed. We are no longer a farming community but are now a robust city. Our state legislators, whether in Missouri or anywhere else these overlaps occur, need to address this in an informed, deliberative manner before it gets more out of control than it already is!

When is this madness going to stop?

Jim Pepper is a former Mayor and City Councilman in St. Louis County, MO. Jim is currently a Councilman in O’Fallon, MO, a city of approx. 80,000. Jim also spent 35 years in the corporate world of Xerox.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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