The Post Dispatch says Dooley takes heat from taxpayers upset over lower assessments for casinos
By Scott Bandle STLtoday.com
Posted: Monday, September 26, 2011
The idea was for residents to talk with St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, his staff and department heads. However, at last week's town hall meeting at Lindbergh High School, some residents wanted to speak to one person who wasn't there — St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman.
During a tense Q&A session with Dooley, a recent decision by the St. Louis County Board of Equalization was brought up. The board lowered the assessed values of the Harrah's and River City casinos by a combined $407 million. River City in Lemay went from $284 million to $164 million. Lemay's taxes from River City will drop from $8.7 million to $5 million.
One resident wanted to know the affect of lost taxes, especially in the Lemay area. "How much money are we going to lose from lost taxes?" he asked.
Each time, Dooley declined to comment, saying that he "couldn't speak for another elected official." "Let's be fair," he said several times. "You need to make an appointment to talk with (Zimmerman)."
When asked why Zimmerman wasn't at the meeting, Dooley said it was just for the county administrative staff.
Gary Barna, 68, felt frustrated that the assessor wasn't there. "I had some questions I hoped I'd get answered," Bama said. "Frankly, this whole thing was a waste of time."
The town hall meeting was the first of two meetings set between St. Louis County administrators and South County residents. The second will be Oct. 19 at Bernard Middle School of the Mehlville School District.
Some residents also asked about the new trash districts and ongoing litigation with the county. In July, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of St. Louis County, dismissing a class-action lawsuit brought by three residents. They believed the new trash districts were unconstitutional.
One of the plaintiffs, Cathy Ambruster, 60, of Lemay, accused Dooley of taking people's rights away. The county selects the trash hauler to handle the routes for a given district.
"We should have the right to choose the trash hauler we want," she said after the meeting. "Dooley is treating us like puppets."
In other litigation, the St. Louis County Circuit Court recently ruled that the county must pay $1.16 million to three trash haulers for breach of contract for hiring one hauler for the trash districts.
County Attorney Pat Redington said the county will continue to fight any legal action. She is confident that appeals would be successful. When asked if the taxpayers will lose money from the lawsuits, she said no. "We've got this kind of legal action in our budget," she said. "We're also insured for this kind of thing. The county gets sued all of the time."
Before the Q&A, session, Chief Operating Officer Garry Earls spoke about South County road projects.
Second South County Town Hall Meeting
WHEN: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19
WHERE: Bernard Middle School gymnasium, 1054 Forder Road
Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/suburban-journals/metro/news/article_624d11a4-a90c-5421-bb90-8b45f3fd391d.html#ixzz1ZA0BtCxS