Post-Walmart Special Election Would Cost Ellisville $8K to $10K
New information from the St. Louis County Board of Elections suggests that a special election for the city in the fallout of plans for a Walmart Superstore would cost between $8,000 and $10,000.
Following the Ellisville City Council's decision to permit a Walmart Superstore, a recall aimed at removing the council members who supported the project could cost taxpayers between $8,000 and $10,000, a St. Louis County Board of Elections representative said Wednesday.
"That would be a minimum," elections director Rita Heard-Days said of the estimated expense.
Efforts to remove select city council members from office started earlier this month following the city council's vote to grant the developers of a Walmart Superstore a TIF or tax increment financing district. The TIF will allow the developer, The Sansone Group, to capture half of all new sales tax growth in the area of the project located southwest of Manchester and Kiefer Creek roads.
In addition to outcry from residents and business owners who criticized the city's use of the TIF, the project has come under fire due to its impact on Clarkchester Apartments and surrounding businesses, which will need to be demolished if and when the project advances.
In response, a group called the Ellisville Article 9 Alliance is pushing to remove the five city council members who supported the project from office. In accordance with the city's charter, the group in the short term is targeting Councilmembers Dawn Anglin and Troy Pieper, two of the five council members who voted 'yes' on the project who would be eligible for removal from office this fall.
Recall leader Liz Schmidt said the group ideally would add the question of a recall to ballots for an existing election, such as November's presidential elections, when voter turnout historically is high. That Nov. 6 date would conflict with recall requirements set forth in the city's charter, however, which specifies that no official can be recalled within 180 days from that official’s next election; both Anglin and Pieper are scheduled for re-election in the April 2013 municipal elections, which fall within 180 days of Nov. 6.
Heard-Days of the St. Louis County Board of Elections said a recall held independently of an existing county election date would cost the City of Ellisville between roughly $8,000 and $10,000 if applied to two of Ellisville's three voting districts. That would include the cost of paying people to work the polls, printing paper ballots, mailing election notices, transporting the voting equipment and tabulating votes.
"Those are some of the costs, not all of them, that would be associated with that process," she said. "It can be very expensive."
Heard-Days said additional costs could come from renting space for the election if public buildings were not available, among other expenses.
"So it can be quite a bit when you start adding it up."
Ellisville Finance Director Don Cary said typically, the cost of an election is split between the applicable taxing bodies, which often includes school districts, St. Louis County and the State of Missouri, among others.
"But if it's a special election, it's just the city doing it, so there's no other tax authorities to split it with," Cary said.
Liz Schmidt, who also is a resident of Clarkchester Apartments, said the cost of a special election would not deter her group's plans.
"That's not our problem," Schmidt said last week. "This is the cost of doing democracy."