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$500 million bond issue approved for MSD

ST. LOUIS – Residents of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District approved Tuesday the $500 million Proposition Y bond issue to partially fund $1.58 billion in system improvements.

The combined vote in the city and the county was 121,003, or 82 percent, in favor versus 27,239, or 18 percent, in opposition. Looking at only city votes, the results nearly mirrored those percentages, at 82.86 percent, or 46,709, in favor versus 17.14 percent, or 9,663 votes.

Under this proposal, the average monthly wastewater bills will increase to $62.59 from $56.40 through 2024, MSD officials say. 

Rejecting the bond issue would have meant residents would pay cash, and watch their average monthly bill zoom to $86.12 through 2024 . However, because they wouldn’t have had to pay interest, their total outlay would have been less in the long run.

The choice in the Proposition Y bond issue is the result of an agreement reached in 2012 by MSD, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment requiring the MSD to fix major sewer problems across the St. Louis region. 

Voters also approved five mostly minor amendments to the MSD charter. Those amendment proposals were the result of a review of the document that’s done once every 10 years. 

The amendments approved were:

Proposition 1: “Remov(ing) obsolete provisions, modernize certain provisions, references and language and change certain provisions to align with current practices,”  “adding gender, sexual orientation, familial status, ancestry or national origin and disability to the list of protected classes,” and requiring that the notice of proposed rate changes are posted on the district’s website.  The vote was about 68 percent in favor, 32 percent in opposition.

Proposition 2: Allows a way for the Board of Trustees to pass legislation when too many trustees have conflicts of interest. The vote was about 62 percent in favor, 38 percent in opposition.

Proposition 3: Changing the requirements for rate changes. The vote was about 69 percent for and 31 percent against.

Proposition 4: Raising the compensation of trustees from $300 a year, which they were paid in 1954, to about $600 now. The vote was about 63 percent in favor and 37 percent in opposition.

Proposition 5: Allows MSD to keep the same independent auditing firm for more than five consecutive years if that firm submits a competitive bid for auditing services after five years. It must change its lead auditing firm at that time. “Not a whole lot of firms want to do our audits,” Hoelscher said. The vote was about 62 percent for and 38 percent against.

Jim Merkel

southsidemerkel@gmail.com Born and raised in St. Louis, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of four books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis. For more about Jim, visit www.jimmerkelthewriter.com.

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