The and U-Gas planned for the former in Ballwin are likely to be subject to an additional sales tax following a request by the project's developer and a passive motion by Ballwin board members.
The decision would result in the creation of a Transportation Development District or TDD, which would place an additional 1 percent sales tax on all transactions within the district. Funds garnered by the TDD by law are required to be used for transportation improvements, which developer Bill Biermann of W.B. Biermann in Chesterfield said would go toward the cost of implementing pavement, retaining walls, infrastructure for storm water drainage and street lights.
Like the one in place for the grocery store, the TDD would be scheduled to expire after 20 years.
“These improvements are less extensive than those being done for Schnucks, but the U-Gas and Wendy’s are much smaller businesses and will generate less tax revenue for the district," Biermann told council members at a Feb. 27 meeting.
Biermann told council members in December that the tax was being sought out because of miscalculated expenses, mainly in terms of costs associated with transporting soil.
“We made some mistakes that were big mistakes,” Biermann said. “An assumption was made that some of the materials would be hauled off at a very close distance."
Biermann said that when it was discovered that the dirt and materials on site didn't match the specifications sought by the potential buyer, the development's overall cost grew.
He said those setbacks could cost close to $700,000, or between $500,000 and $1 million.
Property owners at the site filed have a lawsuit in St. Louis County Court against the site's transportation authorities—The City of Ballwin, St. Louis County and the Missouri Department of Transportation—in search of the TDD, which will require a public hearing and then a judge's order. Ballwin City Attorney Bob Jones said official opposition by the City board would require them to identify how the project's petition was defective, why the district is illegal or unconstitutional, or why the proposed funding method is illegal.
"That’s a relatively small group of things that we have an interest in," Jones said.
Jones added that opposition from the city would not negate a judge's ability to approve the district.
Last month, the Ballwin Board of Alderman voted to "not oppose formation of the TDD." Those in agreement were Aldermen Richard Boerner, Frank Fleming, Kathy Kerlagon, James Leahy and Mayor Tim Pogue.
Fleming said at that time he was not opposed to the TDD given Biermann's credibility to date with developments such as the . He also said the city would benefit from the stipulated infrastructural additions required by the TDD.
"There are some legitimate public improvements all the way around," Fleming said. "It’s paid for by people who do their shopping there. If people don’t want to shop there because there’s a TDD, they can buy their gas down the road if they want to. It’s not being forced on anybody.
Aldermen Shamed Dogan, Michael Finley, Mark Harder and James Terbrock voted against the motion.
"Who in the world in business has that ability to say, 'Shoot, we missed our number—let’s impose a tax and get it back,'" Terbrock said. "Does anybody have that?”
Ballwin resident David Snow told the Board of Aldermen on Monday that the businesses under the project should be required to be more transparent about the added costs.
“Why not let them state that on a very prominent sign in the store or something saying, ‘We have … implemented an additional tax to put this property here,’ that way they don’t think Ballwin is applying the tax,” Snow said. “Let them bear the brunt of who’s paying for what they’re getting.”
The public hearing regarding the TDD is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 at .
Editor's Note: This article was last updated at 8:22 a.m.