Ballwin’s seriousness about purchasing city streetlights from Ameren Missouri has taken on new emphasis with the city’s hiring of a California firm to pursue the matter aggressively.
On a unanimous vote at its Nov. 26 meeting, the Ballwin Board of Aldermen voted to move forward with an agreement that will authorize Tanko Lighting, Inc., to negotiate with Ameren about the purchase on the city’s behalf. According to City Attorney Robert Jones, the agreement could lead to a lawsuit aimed at forcing the sale if negotiations are unproductive.
Jones said the San Francisco-based firm had made an unsolicited proposal to represent and work with the city on the matter.
The company will receive $35,000 for its services only if they result in a viable outcome enabling the city to purchase the streetlight assets. If Tanko chooses not to pursue litigation of an eminent domain case and no reasonable offer is made through negotiations, no payment will be due from the city.
Tanko’s website lists a number of successful projects with municipalities from coast to coast. Perhaps the largest was an effort with the city of Buffalo, New York, to determine if it was practical for the municipality to acquire 33,000 streetlights from National Grid and convert them to LED fixtures.
City leaders have discussed the streetlight purchase for a number of years due to the steadily-increasing costs of Ameren’s ownership and charges to the city for maintenance and electricity to power the fixtures. The city is eyeing the potential savings involved in buying the lights and converting them to more energy-efficient models, but Ameren has been unwilling to negotiate the issue.
Ballwin pays some $600,000 annually to Ameren for power and maintenance.
Tanko’s services include everything from supporting efforts to acquire streetlights from local utilities and providing needed financial analyses to evaluating a range of products designed to meet a municipality’s goals.