Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Future of City Pensions Rests in Voters' Hands

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Future of City Pensions Rests in Voters' Hands

Article excerpt

Increases in the number of Kirkwood police officers and firefighters means pension payments for city employees will drop unless voters approve a tax rate increase, police officer Cliff Kierstead recently told the City Council.

Kirkwood residents will decide on Nov. 7 whether to increase the property tax rate by 5 cents to maintain the police and firefighters' pension plan.

If voters reject the measure, all city employee pension benefits would be reduced, said Barb Burns, the city's assistant administrator. According to the city charter, if the city lowers its pension plan contribution to firefighters and police officers, it must also lower its contribution for civilian employees.

"According to the charter language, one triggers the other," she said.

Kierstead, a Kirkwood police officer and treasurer of the Citizens' Committee for Police and Fire, said Proposition 1 would raise the pension tax rate to 18 cents from 13 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation. For the owner of a $100,500 home - the median price of homes in Kirkwood - that would translate into an additional $9.55 a year in property taxes.

The city contributes the equivalent of 4 percent of each officer's salary to the police and firefighters' pension fund.

"One thing to remember is that the police and firefighters are not covered by Social Security," Kierstead said. "Their pension is it."

In other business, the council opposed a two-lot subdivision in the Sugar Creek Valley area. Al Birkenmeier of Legend Builders Corp. had asked the council to waive its zoning restriction against "flag lots," so he could develop the land at 1811 West Adams Avenue.

The Kirkwood building code defines flag lots as those with less than 50 percent of its width fronting on a street, said Mayor Marge Schramm.

While one lot would front on West Adams, the second would be connected to the street by just a driveway. …

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