Thuston faces Ward 1 Alderman Broughton for Green Park mayor

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Green Park Ward 1 Alderman Michael Broughton, left, and Green Park Mayor TIm Thuston.

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

Incumbent Green Park Mayor Tim Thuston will be challenged by longtime Ward 1 Alderman Michael Broughton in the upcoming municipal election.

Thuston and Broughton will face each other for the title of mayor Tuesday, April 6.

Broughton, 77, 9936 Jan Drive, and his wife, Marilyn, have four adult children.

Broughton is one of the current Green Park Ward 1 aldermen and has held that seat since 2015. He has his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and his associate degree in law enforcement from St. Louis Community College-Meramec.

“Being mayor requires leadership, intelligence, honesty, integrity and imagination; qualities that I want to put to work for the citizens of Green Park,” Broughton said on why he was seeking office.

Thuston, 66, 9400 Green Park Road, is the current mayor of Green Park and served as a Ward 2 alderman from 2007 to 2019.

He is the father of six children: Tim, Nick, Andy, Dan, Wil and Sara. He works in sales with Engineered Floors.

When asked why he was seeking re-election, Thuston said, “I have been instilled with a sincere belief in community service. Giving back to the South County community where I developed my childhood roots gives me a true sense of humble pride. My family has lived here since the 1940s and my mother came to Green Park in 1943 as a 12-year-old and still lives here — it was then unincorporated St. Louis County. I feel I have a unique skill set and the many life experiences that have given broad exposure to citations needing guidance that I can contribute to. There are a variety of projects currently in process or planned that I would like to follow through to completion.”

What do you consider the single most important in this race and why?

Broughton: “Curtailing the loss of owner-occupied single-family residential property in the city, and encouraging viable, well-maintained, owner-occupied homes.”

Thuston: “My concern is for any potential ‘over regulation’ and negativism. I believe we should provide our city’s citizens with the best possible services, manage the city’s assets well and do our best to let them express their concerns and then stay out of their way.”

Other issues you perceive in your race and your position on each:

Broughton: “Maintaining city infrastructure (streets, etc.), supporting home maintenance and improvement (i.e., Neighborhood Enhancement Program), improving communication between citizens, elected officials  and police; attracting viable businesses to the city.”

Thuston: My intent is to keep the city moving forward through the obstructions caused by the COVID-19 troubles. We need to continue being financially vigilant and to be on guard to protect our citizens and property owners from being overgoverned by introducing too many restrictions to their individual freedoms from City Hall. We don’t need to put the city into a position of expensive legal entanglements caused by the overzealous intentions to restrict property ownership.”

What is your position on the use of tax-increment financing and other tax incentives?   

Broughton: “I haven’t seen the need to use this and don’t anticipate the need for it in the future.”

Thuston: “Tax-increment financing is a great way to help assist community development. If directed correctly they are a great tool for the city to use. Currently Green Park has no TIFs. However, we do have a TDD (Transportation Development District) that was used in the development of the intersection at South Lindbergh and East Concord where the current QuikTrip sits.”

Since voters approved a half-cent capital-improvements sales tax, are you pleased with how the revenue has been spent?

Broughton: “So far, yes.”

Thuston: “For Green Park the half-cent capital improvement sales tax has been a vital part of our ability to fund the various major improvements the city has made. We have received four federal grants since 2008. The grants have allowed us to make these improvements by leveraging 80-percent funding from federal funds and 20 percent of our local funds that were increased by giving us a larger percentage of the tax dollars we were already generating. For a city the size of Green Park, we have quite a bit of infrastructure to maintain, and these increased funds have allowed us to do so.”

How much of a fund balance should the city keep in its reserves each year? Please elaborate.

Broughton: “To date, the city has enjoyed having ample cash on hand. If this situation changes, a review of the city’s financial circumstances will be necessary and a course of action determined.”

Thuston: We have been fortunate to continue to keep a solid reserve amount that is available for any unexpected expenditures not budgeted for. The city has over $2.5 million above the required reserve amount at its disposal. These reserves will shelter us from the dangers of any drop in revenue in the future due to any unforeseen situations and give us the ability to entertain any future community projects.”

Do you agree with the direction the city is moving?

Broughton: “No. The city needs to be on a more progressive course to maintain its viability and effectively deal with future needs and circumstances.”

Thuston: “Yes … I continue to see the neighborhoods improving. We’ve done a very good job of replacing and repairing our city’s streets throughout the city. Our relationship with the St. Louis County Police remains strong and our streets are safe, as the crime rate has been consistently low. We have added an additional dedicated patrol car and officer, who have helped us develop a stronger neighborhood watch program. They had just begun a new program involving the various watch areas when that effort was delayed due to the COVID-19 limitations.”

In your opinion, have city officials and the Board of Aldermen faithfully adhered to the provisions of the Sunshine Law? What would you do to ensure compliance with the law? 

Broughton: “I’m aware of occasional problems that have arisen with regard to this law.  However, striving to comply with all Sunshine requirements benefits the city, its citizens and the media.  So, the city should strive for better adherence to Sunshine requirements.”

Thuston: “Yes, we have followed the Sunshine Law provisions, and we carefully follow the state’s guidelines.”

Should the city be expanded through the annexation of nearby areas of unincorporated St. Louis County?

Broughton: “Annexation is a lengthy and complex process.  Expansion would benefit the city in many ways, but expansion effort should be undertaken with a specific action plan in place before embarking on an annexation effort.”

Thuston: “Merger with the surrounding unincorporated areas has been looked at very closely several times. Currently, the Board of Aldermen has tabled any idea of moving forward with expansion.”

Should the city impose an administrative fee on businesses or require businesses to obtain a license?

Broughton: “I don’t anticipate a business license requirement being implemented in the near future.”

Thuston: “In March of 2008, I personally chaired a committee to study the establishment of business registration and/or licensing in some form. I found that of all of the 44 fourth-class cities in St. Louis County, 26 of them had a fee-based structure for business licenses. My concern was that the city had not made a concerted effort to identify the businesses that are doing business within our city limits. It’s still my belief that we should move forward with licensing. The city has the authority to license businesses, but any fees charged in connection with such licenses would have to be approved by Green Park voters.”

Are you satisfied with the services the city provides to residents, including snow removal and street maintenance?

Broughton: “Trash, recycling and yard waste collection is exemplary. Snow removal and other street maintenance has been good — demonstratively better than contiguous areas in St. Louis County.”

Thuston: “Our snow removal services are currently being handled quite well. Additionally, the maintenance and care given to the city’s public areas from spring through fall has been great. We are currently looking into the viability of having the streets ‘swept’ in a different fashion, including the possibility of contracting with a street sweeper to keep our streets clean.”

Are you pleased with the city’s comprehensive plan? Are changes needed? If so, what would you propose?

Broughton: “The current plan is not a ‘working’ document.  The Green Park community would benefit greatly by a thorough evaluation of current and future needs, determination of goals relative to those needs, and then developing an action plan to achieve those goals, then working the plan.”

Thuston did not answer.

What would you propose to increase citizen involvement in city government?

Broughton: “ An informative newsletter and city website and (after COVID), periodic ‘meet your elected officials’ events at City Hall,  and other community events  and programs such as a lawn  and garden club, et cetera.”

Thuston: “It has been a major concern of mine that there is such a lack of civic involvement by all citizens, far and wide throughout our country. I have been struck by the lack of citizen participation in our Green Park open meetings and the continued low percentages of voters who actually vote. When the opportunities have presented themselves I have nominated or appointed newer citizens into positions of civic duty.”

Do you believe the Board of Aldermen and city officials are doing enough to ensure rental properties in Green Park comply with city code? 

Broughton: “The city needs a full-time compliance person.  Without that person, it is difficult for other staff to effectively deal with non-compliant landlords and/or their renters. A competent, knowledgeable person should be hired as soon as possible to fill the compliance void.”

Thuston: “We recently created a position of code enforcement officer to be more focused on code violations. Unfortunately, he has left to take a similar position closer to his home, so we are looking to fill his place. It was our belief that this was a step in the right direction to have someone dedicated to code enforcement.”

Do you support the Board of Aldermen’s decision to offer free trash pickup and recycling services to citizens? 

Broughton: “I support the board’s decision to provide city-funded trash, recycling and yard waste pick-up to resident homeowners in single-family homes.”

Thuston: “Yes, I fully support this program. In the past we had multiple waste management companies driving through our streets on a daily basis, picking up for their particular individual customers. Having just one company limits the number of trash trucks roaming through our subdivisions and keeps our streets safer and our yards much cleaner. Providing this service to our citizens at no cost to them is another benefit we provide our neighbors. American Eagle has done an outstanding job and they continue to be an excellent service provider.”

What kind of growth, if any, do you envision for the city?

Broughton: “Due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe that previously anticipated growth will be either weak or nonexistent. Business and employment circumstances in the coming months will be an indicator of our city’s ability to grow.”

Thuston: “We have had the addition of two new subdivisions the last few years. The city is having a surge in new younger home owners. It has become noticeable that this is taking place, and I’m anxious to see the 2020 census results. We sponsor a Senior Bingo Day each month. In the past there was quite an overflow crowd waiting for a seat, and the reservation list has slightly declined. Likewise, we have an annual visit from Santa Claus in our Community Room, and ironically, those numbers are noticeably increasing…so we see a trend in lower average age of our residents.”

What is your vision for the city of Green Park?

Broughton: “Resident homeowners are the core of the city. So, effectively serving that core element is paramount for a viable Green Park. Maintaining city services to homeowners and infrastructure maintenance are base elements of a stable city.  Developing community service and assistance programs for residents and businesses will enhance and assure a viable city community. “

Thuston: “Green Park is a wonderful place to raise a family. Our low crime rate, good schools and the ease of access to other metropolitan St. Louis areas makes it a favorable area to live and to work. The Green Park Commerce Center is nearly full. It would be fabulous if it were totally built out and occupied. If I’m honored to be re-elected in April, it will be my last two years in service to the community so I would like to see a few projects through to their completion.

“The Mueller Road surfacing project will be going out to bid shortly, and we intend on getting it completed by fall. That will round out the replacement or resurfacing of all our major through-traffic thoroughfares. We will also be working on a slab replacement project in the Commerce Center, where needed, soon to keep it top shape for its businesses. I foresee the restart of the ‘Groovin in the Green’ get together in Snyder Park to return this fall or late summer. It’s a very nice event that had been growing each year until this past year when we had to cancel it for the obvious health and safety reasons.”

What is your greatest accomplishment on behalf of the city?

Broughton: “ Creating the Neighborhood Enhancement Program, which is a city grant to resident homeowners.  The grant annually provides 20 $5,000 grants to qualified resident homeowners to maintain their homes.”

Thuston: I’ve served the city as Ward 2 alderman over 12 years, and now as its mayor. We will leave the city in very good shape financially and have improved the services provided by the city. The streets will be in better shape than any of the surrounding areas. Looking back to the Green Park Road project when it was totally rebuilt, the city was originally going to put standard concrete sidewalks parallel to the new street. The sidewalk was also going to be put on the residential side of the road, which would have infringed on the yards of all the homeowners along that side. We were able to go through a painstaking process in getting the sidewalks widened and have them flow nicely through the park and connect it all the way to the Grant’s Trail. There were obviously many steps needed to purchase the property and procure the rights to go through Blake Snyder County Park. I believe it has become a super tribute to the citizens of the city. Completing the final purchase and payoff of the Green Park (City Hall) building has not only saved the city a lot of revenue but has also become a solid source of rental income to add to our investments.”

Do you support a city-county merger?

Broughton: “I did not support this and will not support such a merger in the future.”

Thuston: “No, absolutely not.”

Should the city regulate medical residential businesses in city limits?

Broughton: “Yes, the city should use all legal means to regulate these businesses.”

Thuston: “Yes, but we must be cautious to stay within the state of Missouri and St. Louis County’s guidelines. We could find ourselves in a very costly legal entanglement as other cities within St Louis County already have. I believe we should stand clear of telling homeowners what they can and can’t do with the properties they own.”

Do you support the city’s agreement with the St. Louis County Police Department, and would you change it in any way?

Broughton: “I am not aware of any citizen dissatisfaction with police service at this time, so I don’t anticipate any changes in the near future.”

Thuston: “The St. Louis County Police Department has been a wonderful partner for us, and it has saved the city considerable revenue. The program they have set up for handling law enforcement for incorporated cities is well established and works seamlessly within Green Park.”

What do you believe should be the top priorities of City Administrator James Mello?

Broughton: “Keeping the city in compliance with federal, state and county laws is an ongoing priority.  Developing a new computer system to better serve the city with record keeping and information management is a current project and a priority, as is enhancing communications with elected officials, citizens and the media.”

Thuston: James has done an outstanding job working for our city.”

Do you believe the city should provide notices to media of upcoming meetings?

Broughton: “Yes, I support informing the media of meetings and events in a timely manner and as provided by law.”

Thuston: “Yes, they certainly should be notified. We post all of our public meetings on our website.”

Should city meetings be recorded?

Broughton: “I am in favor of either audio or video recording of city meetings. Posting the recordings on the city website would greatly enhance communication between city officials and citizens.”

Thuston: “I don’t believe the city meetings need to be recorded. It would just add unnecessary administrative costs to the city. All our meetings are posted, open to the public and the minutes are always available online.”

What will you do to attract businesses to the city as Steak ‘n Shake and now Schnucks will be closing?

Broughton: “As a former small business owner and manager, I am acutely aware of the city’s need to maintain a viable business community.  Vacant business properties are detrimental to the city.  So, city officials should maintain a comprehensive list of vacant business properties.  Thereafter, decide what type of business is desirable for each property, then proactively seek desired businesses to operate in those properties.”

Thuston did not answer.