5 months ago

West Newsmagazine 3-7-18

Local news, local politics and community events for West St. Louis County Missouri.

14 I NEWS I March 7,

14 I NEWS I March 7, 2018 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE Raising Capital Law Matters One of my sons texted me the other day. He’s getting into the real estate business – multifamily. He was renting an apartment but got tired of that, so he bought a four-family, lives in one unit, and rents the other three. I wish I would’ve been that smart. He’s going into business with one of his grade school buddies to buy more properties. But they want to get bigger properties. The problem is that that requires more money than the two of them have. That seems to be a perennial problem for businesses – money. It happens all the time where a business needs to buy more equipment or expand facilities in order to grow and make more money. But the question is how. Owners can borrow money, but banks can be stingy. They don’t like lending money when there’s a chance they won’t get it back. It has to be a pretty certain business opportunity for them to lend a bunch of money. Just to make sure, they will usually put some kind of a lien against the assets, and they’ll impose a bunch of financial covenants or promises on the business. Those covenants can be kind of a pain, but after all, it is their money that they are lending you. Instead of a bank loan, business owners can go to friends and family to get private loans. Those can get messy. It’s important to have a clear understanding about what’s going on. If things go well, your “lender” will want to treat it as an investment so that they get to share in the growth of the business. If things go badly, your “investor” will want to be treated as a lender so they can get paid back before the shareholders. And the understanding needs to be in writing – people are funny about remembering things the way they want to. In my son's case, he knew that he wanted to actually sell interests in his business. He knew that this created securities law issues. He thought he'd have to register with the SEC, but since it was a small, intrastate (only Missouri investors), he fit into some exemptions. For more information on the exemptions, please visit On another topic, I wanted to let people know that my book is now available on Amazon Kindle as an e-book. You can always order a hard copy, but the digital version is now available. Happy reading! with estate planning is always know what to expect. Fred has gathered some of the most interesting examples he knows into an entertaining and eduactional book. at ae t t is available to order online at Fred L. Vilbig is an attorney with over 30 years of experience in the areas of wills and trusts, small businesses, and real estate. This column is for informational purposes only. Nothing herein should be treated as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. (636) 537-7884 | | By JESSICA MESZAROS @WESTNEWSMAG WESTNEWSMAGAZINE.COM Town & Country’s Town Square project moves toward late summer completion The cost of Town & Country’s Town Square is increasing, but the additional costs are not unexpected. “We made some changes to the design of the plaza area, and for those changes that the board decided to make, we had to pay Stock and his subcontractor, which is our landscape architect, to make those changes,” Alderman Skip Mange [Ward 1] said, referring to Chesterfield-based Stock & Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc. The design changes include alterations to the trail loop connection, the landscape buffer and modifications to the plaza area. On Feb. 26, the city’s Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance adding $33,200 to the Town Square Preliminary Site Plan revisions purchase order with Stock & Associates. The ordinance also amended the city’s 2018 budget by increasing a capital improvements fund expenditure account and appropriating funds from the unappropriated balance of the capital improvements fund to cover the cost increase. The passage of the budget increase means Stock & Associates will have the necessary resources to alter construction drawings and allow increased examination of the certain project areas in regard to engineering. In related matters, a change order from Brinkmann Holdings, LLC received its first reading by the aldermen, also with the intent to amend the 2018 budget by increasing a capital improvements fund expenditure account and appropriating funds to cover that cost. According to information provided to the aldermen, an increase of $103,109 would allow for asbestos abatement, Missouri Sewer District [MSD] drawing revisions, slope stability features and other items. “When we tore down the old Wirth home, it had asbestos in it, and we had to do some abatement, and that was a little bit of the money,” Mange explained. “Then, there were some slope stabilizations that the soil engineers on the site wanted us to do for the area of the lake.” According to Mange, the amendments brought before the council are to examine items that have been discovered during the excavation of the site and which could not have been determined at a prior phase. “MSD came back with some revisions – and you have to get MSD approval for any type of project like this relative to sanitation and storm sewers – and they came back with some requirements and changes to the site plan that are different than what the contract was with Brinkmann,” Mange said. “So we had to make those changes, and that required additional engineering work, which Stock did in order to get our plans approved by MSD.” The most recent Town Square rendering shows revisions to the plaza area. [Graphic courtesy of Town & Country] According to information provided to the board, the obligations made on the project to date, including the original purchase price of the property, total around $8,023,099. The city paid about $2,250,000 for the site in January 2015. Obligations relating solely to the development agreement with Brinkmann Holdings, LLC, as approved to date, total about $5,099,741. According to Mange, the city is paying for the project out of cash in the bank, while maintaining a balanced general fund budget and retaining more extra funds than required for an emergency reserve. “We’re required to keep a 50-percent reserve, and we’ll have about a 75-percent reserve when we’re done with all this,” Mange said. “We’ve had a surplus of cash in the bank over the years, and now we’re returning that to the citizens to build this project for their use. It’s an investment in infrastructure rather than letting it sit in the bank and earn .5-percent interest.” The city is tracking toward a tentative completion date of mid-to-late 2018 for the square. “We had a very fortunate start in December,” Mange said. “They got an unbelievable amount of work done in winter, so the August completion date seems very reasonable.”

FACEBOOK.COM/WESTNEWSMAGAZINE WESTNEWSMAGAZINE.COM Missouri American Water meeting on high bills has mixed results By JIM ERICKSON March 7, 2018 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE I NEWS I 15 Send mosquitoes packing for the summer. Although a public meeting to answer questions about high water bills from Missouri American Water didn’t draw as many attendees as hoped or expected, it did accomplish what it set out to do, according to a company spokesman. Brian Russell, Missouri American’s external affairs manager, said most of those who attended the Feb. 26 meeting at Rockwood Summit High went away with the information they wanted. Russell said an earlier meeting on the company’s rate hike request to the Missouri Public Service Commission [PSC] focused on explaining the company’s rationale for the increase and the need for it. However, it quickly became apparent that most people at that meeting had questions about their individual water bills. “We wound up with a long line of people wanting to talk specifically with the one customer service representative who was there,” he recalled. “This time, we concluded it would be better if we brought more service representatives with us so that people could get their individual questions answered quickly,” Russell added. “We were prepared to have a session giving an overview of the rate increase issue if the turnout appeared to require it, but that didn’t happen.” Water usage could cost 40 percent more by summer if a proposed Missouri American Water rate hike is approved. One person who wasn’t pleased with the session was Patricia Bates, who said she attended to get follow-up information on what she described as a sudden and unexpected spike in water usage volume affecting about “100 or so” homes in her Fenton neighborhood. Their experiences have been posted on the Nextdoor website, which describes itself as “the private social network for your neighborhood.” Bates said Missouri American had pledged to look into the issue and provide data and other information in response to questions she had raised at the earlier meeting. Those details were not forthcoming at the Feb. 26 session, Bates asserted, leaving her disappointed at what she perceived as the company’s lack of follow-up and “no accountability.” Asked about Bates’ comments, Russell said the company had checked the operation of 46 water meters and that 45 of them were in the required accuracy range. The only one that didn’t “pass” was found to be inoperative and didn’t register any water usage. In an earlier West Newsmagazine article, Water usage could cost 40 percent more by summer if a proposed Missouri American Water rate hike is approved. Russell also observed that with abnormally dry conditions in the late summer and fall last year, water usage by many Missouri American customers had increased dramatically due to heavier watering of lawns and plantings. With quarterly billings, that higher usage often wasn’t reflected until statements were received late in the year. However, Bates said the double-to-tripleusage increases she referred to happened with a limited number of homeowners in a comparatively small area. At the Rockwood Summit session, Missouri American service representatives talked with attendees at individual tables, each with a computer hooked to the company’s database of customer water usage. Handouts included a water leak detection kit, signs of a water leak, tips on wise water usage and detailed information on how to double-check a water bill’s computation. One Ballwin resident at the meeting asked for a review of his water usage, predicting that it would show a marked increase in the September-November period due to his annual lawn maintenance practices then. The usage figures for the past six years confirmed what he had predicted. Missouri American had scheduled the meeting at the request of state Rep. Shamed Dogan of Ballwin, whose Missouri House district includes southwestern St. Louis County. Filed last June, Missouri American’s current rate increase proposal still is pending before the PSC. The company says the need for higher revenue is to recover costs for major water and sewer system improvements that are needed to maintain reliable service. • Barrier spray treatments to rid your yard of mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. • • All natural treatment options available. Call 314-628-0055 for new customer pricing OR to save big with Pre-pay special! $39.95 FIRST SPRAY New customers only. Valid up to 1/2 acre. 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