Questions raised about proposed election board move at St. Louis County Council meeting

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CLAYTON, MO (KTVI) – An effort to consolidate some St. Louis County offices is raising questions about the proposed deal.  St. Louis County hopes to move several operations, including elections operations, to a development at the old Northwest Plaza Site called Northwest Crossings.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger says a long term lease will save taxpayers $10 million.  He says the County will also maintain a satellite election office near the current location where voters can still cast absentee ballots in what’s considered a central location.

Critics wonder if the proposed move is the result of campaign contributions from the site’s developer.   According to state records, the developers directed $75,000 to Stenger’s re-election campaign last year.  Stenger rejects the idea that the lease deal would be the result of the contribution.

“I receive donations from dozens of sources all over the county and even outside the county, and that does not disqualify anyone from doing business with the county,” said Stenger.  “And this is a lease that saves taxpayers $10 million over the life of the lease.”

One of the operations slated for the move is the elections operation currently located in Maplewood.  G.T. Cozad III is president of Cozad Commercial Real Estate.  He expressed his concerns about the deal in front of the St. Louis County Council during Tuesday’s meeting. He spoke on behalf of the owner of the property the elections operations could soon vacate.

“I don’t feel like they’re being transparent,” said Cozad. “Something just doesn’t seem right.”

He feels the county should share more details about their analysis of other sites before a move takes place.  Stenger said St. Louis County has never put out bids for a real estate lease because there are too many variables to consider.

Cozad hopes citizens will give a closer examination to the deal.  A vote could take place at the next council meeting July 5th.