St. Charles County is the third largest county in the state in both population and economy, and is one of the top 25 counties in the nation for high-tech job growth. If you didn’t know these impressive statistics before, let the magnitude of them sink in for a minute.
Now, add in the completion of many successful County Government-led projects over the past 12 years, such as the expansion of the County Parks system and completion of the Page Extension. All of this is quite impressive when you consider how little we have expanded the size of County Government. However, with more growth in St. Charles County on the horizon, we need to plan for the future to continue to provide the best services to our citizens.
St. Charles County’s total economic share also ranks us third in the state of Missouri – 6.76 percent as of 2015. With a population of 385,840, our county makes up 6.34 percent of the state’s population of 6.083 million. That means we are contributing more per person toward our economic share. St. Charles County is clearly a significant part of the “economic engine” in both the metro area and the state, and County Government plays a huge role in providing the services that keep our population and jobs here. For example, the Police Department works to keep the community safe, Workforce & Business Development helps citizens find employment with county businesses, and Community Development provides the permitting, code enforcement and planning and zoning services that create quality neighborhoods.
Being fiscally conservative and maximizing material and human resources to provide our services is at the heart of County Government. Since 2004, we have added only 88 employees, even though our population has grown by more than 67,000 residents. If we had expanded County Government as fast as the county grew, we would have added 214 new employees over the last 12 years. With little growth of County Government and significant growth of the county as a whole, we have achieved an amazing number of accomplishments thanks to the efforts of our staff, directors and the community. Here are a few I’d like to share:
- Continued expanding the County Parks system, including opening the Youth Activity Park and College Meadows, adding new additions to Broemmelsiek, and acquiring the Historic Daniel Boone Home at Lindenwood Park.
- Teamed with local municipalities and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to put together a funding package to complete Phases II and III of the Page Extension.
- Worked with businesses and citizens through our Workforce & Business Development department to maintain lower unemployment rates than the rest of the metropolitan area, Missouri and the U.S.
- Launched the St. Charles County Police Department after citizens approved a ballot measure.
- Implemented the County-wide Emergency Radio System to improve communication among first responders.
- Started Gateway Green Light (GGL), a county-wide effort to improve coordination of traffic signals throughout the community. GGL received a 2016 Outstanding Local Government Achievement Award from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
- Partnered with St. Louis County to begin a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) in 2017.
- Developed a new County website, as well as e-newsletters and social media channels to help citizens stay informed.
I should add that this, and so much more, was accomplished for our residents with an average of just 3.33 percent growth in sales tax revenues per year from 2004-2016. Sales tax provides monies to the primary operating fund of County Government. Additionally, the County has not increased property taxes since before 1993. I am proud that we are efficient stewards of your tax dollars.
While we have accomplished much with what we have, there is a demand to maintain and do more and more throughout all areas of County Government as our community continues to grow. The County Park system is continuing to expand, road improvements and bringing new businesses and opportunities to the community continues to be a top priority, law enforcement needs are another top priority and ever-evolving, and changes in technology means we need to develop new and dynamic ways to communicate with our citizens. While the County departments and projects mentioned above fall under my administration, other elected officials are experiencing similar issues:
- The Prosecuting Attorney’s office dedicated an attorney position in 2016 to combat the growing heroin epidemic, and with the rise of cybercrime cases, there has been an influx of media and digital evidence that needs to be processed and handled.
- The Election Authority saw a substantial increase in voter registrations in 2016, which leads to additional files to manage and maintain.
- With the growth of the population, the Assessor and Collector continue to handle an increased volume of assessments and tax bills.
As we are experiencing the benefits of and increased demands from our growth, now is the time to examine how we should plan for our future. These plans still are to be determined, but I look forward to working with the County Council and providing updates on how we are working to keep County Government working for YOU in the years to come.