Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oakville Call Names County Officials' Unresponsiveness Top Story of 2007

According to the Oakville Call, St. Louis County officials have reawakened a sleeping giant — south county.

The Call's No. 1 story of 2007 actually is a combination of three stories that reflect county government's unresponsiveness to the needs of south county residents — the establishment of trash districts in unincorporated areas, County Counselor Pat Redington's decision to settle a lawsuit with Fred Weber Inc. over the company's plans to build a trash-transfer station in Oakville and a proposed half-cent sales tax to fund MetroLink expansion to west county and north county.

South county residents' dissatisfaction with the county's plan to establish trash districts was compounded last fall when they learned Redington had agreed in October to a settlement with Weber that would permit the company to construct the trash-transfer station at 5219 Baumgartner Road.

Nearby residents had opposed the trash-transfer station since it first was proposed by Weber in 2003. To challenge county officials' actions, two groups have formed in south county — Citizens Against Trashy Government is opposed to the trash districts and the trash-transfer station while Make Your Opinion Count LLC is working on an initiative petition to repeal the trash districts and halt the county's new minimum standards for trash collection.

Another south county group — Citizens Against Prop M — was formed to oppose a half-cent sales-tax increase placed on the Feb. 5 ballot by the County Council to expand MetroLink to west county and north county and provide maintenance to Metro light-rail trains and buses.

Before the group even began its efforts, the County Council removed Proposition M from the ballot after former Metro Chief Operating Officer Larry Salci's well-documented appearance on KTVI-TV's "You Paid for It'' program and after a St. Louis County Circuit Court jury ordered Metro to pay $2.56 million to a group of four firms that the transit agency had sued for $80 million.

But county spokesman Mac Scott has said that Prop M likely will appear in some form on a future ballot. We predict any future MetroLink proposal will receive exactly the same reception as Prop M in south county unless a regional transportation plan is developed that details MetroLink expansion, including costs and a reasonable timetable to bring it here.


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