Anderson, Beezley vie for Crestwood Ward 4 seat

Candidates give their views on issues facing city

Timothy Anderson

Timothy Anderson

By Mike Anthony

A former candidate and a former alderman are vying for the Crestwood Ward 4 Board of Aldermen seat in Tuesday’s election.

Timothy Anderson, who ran unsuccessfully for a Ward 4 seat in 2013, and Deborah Beezley, who served as an alderman from 2009 to 2012, are seeking the Ward 4 seat currently held by Mike Vincent.

Vincent was appointed to the seat last year after former Ward 4 Alderman Dan Tennessen resigned.

• “Redevelopment of Crestwood mall. The prospect of commercial activity at Crestwood Plaza hopefully means that the city’s revenue streams will be enhanced to help fund municipal services. Accordingly, the Board of Aldermen and mayor should work together to ensure that the new development generates substantial revenue over the long term. In that light, we need to decide under what circumstances and conditions the city should commit its good credit to subsidize the redevelopment of retail business at the Crestwood Plaza and, if so, with which tax tools and at what level of expenditure,” Anderson said.

• “My desire to work with Crestwood’s mayor and alder-manic team in a fiscally responsible manner to ‘bring Crestwood back’ with special emphasis on the mall and Crestwood’s entire Watson Road corridor,” Beezley said.

Anderson, 61, 9022 Sky Crest Drive, 63126, is an attorney with the law firm Clooney & Anderson. He and his wife, Beverly, have two grown children.

Anderson serves on the city’s Civil Service Board. He said he is seeking election because “I have lived in Crestwood since 1971. It is an outstanding place to raise a family with good city services, friendly and safe neighborhoods, excellent schools and beautiful parks. By serving on the board I want to give back to a community that has afforded me and my family a great place to call home for more than 40 years …”

Beezley, 63, 11730 Parkshire Drive, 63126, is a health care consultant — speciality — health information management, privacy and regulatory. She served as chair of the city’s Police Advisory Board from February 2008 to April 2009, when she was elected to the Board of Aldermen.

She said she is seeking election because “Crestwood is going through a transition. There is a large turnover in housing with many new families who are looking forward to moving into our community and becoming part of our award-winning school district. It is an exciting time of change and I want to make sure we meet the needs of all residents of the community …”

The two gave the following re-sponses to a Call questionnaire:

Anderson said, “Mayor Roby has been in office for about one year. He recognizes the issues the city faces and conducts city meetings in a professional manner. He has made moves to gain political consensus.

“The direction in which the city is moving will become clearer over the coming months as events unfold regarding the redevelopment of the Plaza and the amount of the city’s revenues and expenses. I would encourage the mayor to be more open-minded to transparency.”

Beezley said, “I do support the way the city is moving under the direction of Mayor Gregg Roby. We have a mayor who is at City Hall on a daily basis. He has an open-door policy. Staff morale appears to be back to being positive, and this is due in a large part to his daily presence.

“He listens to what people have to say and is open to new ideas. When he says something, he follows through. He grew up in Crestwood and you can truly feel his love for our community.”

Anderson said, “I would have welcomed and supported a redevelopment of the Crestwood Plaza by Centrum had it tangibly demonstrated that its plan would be a source of substantial long-term revenue generation for it and the city. Centrum’s plan lacked substance. My concern with Centrum’s proposal was that the city was being asked for $34 million of tax-increment financing — TIF, TDD (transportation development district) and CID (community development district) — to benefit the developer without firm specific identification of the retail stores it intended to incorporate in its development.

“The city was asked to make an open-ended leap of faith that the proposed redevelopment would result in a viable and sustainable source of revenue for the foreseeable future. I was concerned that Centrum’s proposal would not accomplish the desired result for Crestwood.”

Beezley said, “I felt the principles of what was presented as a lifestyle center by Centrum and Angelo, Gordon for our community were exciting. As a resident of Crestwood, I was frustrated with our leadership at the time, as they did not have a process in place to be able to determine if the proposal the developer submitted was viable. It is unfortunate the proposal submitted by the developer was not properly evaluated and a counterproposal was not submitted by our city. A planner would have worked collaboratively with city officials and, in turn, served as the voice for Crestwood, with the developer. Selection of a planner is a critical step that must occur if we are to move forward with future development.”

Anderson said, “Mr. Sime, in my experience serving on the Civil Service Board, appears to be a hard-working and forceful administrator. But I have not agreed with every decision of Mr. Sime. For instance, I am not convinced that we need to presently hire a full-time city planner given our budget constraints and the city’s engagement of a professional planning firm for the redevelopment of the Plaza and possible comprehensive plan for the development of the city.

“I also suggest that Mr. Sime and the city move forward to quickly hire a full-time finance officer, a position that has been open for well over a year, so that Mr. Sime can get out of the finance area and more readily concentrate on the anticipated redevelopment of Crestwood Plaza.”

Beezley said, “I feel Mr. Sime continues to grow in his position as city administrator. He has had a lifelong career in the military and as a veteran has served our country with honor.”

Anderson said, “I will support a redevelopment of Crestwood Plaza that uses tax-increment financing in a reasonable amount for a development that has the realistic prospect of meeting the needs of Crestwood citizens and the developer. Here is why: Given the poor condition of the existing structures on the site and its existing topography, it seems inevitable that before new development begins, buildings will have to be demolished and substantial ground filled and graded. We can anticipate significant costs to transform the site.

“With these costs in mind and the reality of how commercial development is financed in the St. Louis area, a TIF of some magnitude will be expected and deemed necessary for the project to go forward. In considering the redevelopment of the Plaza, I will weigh the amount of requested TIF against the development’s ability to generate revenues to pay off the TIF in a timely manner and benefit the city through increased tax revenues.”

Beezley said, “I will evaluate and support whatever is necessary and legal in the pursuit to revitalize our community and our former Crestwood Plaza. To my knowledge, at this point in time, no additional/potential redevelopment has been proposed.”

Anderson said, “I do support taping closed session of the board involving litigation and real estate matters so that there is an accurate record of the proceedings and how aldermen voted. I believe the contents of said recordings should not be disclosed beyond what is required by Missouri’s Sunshine Law.”

Beezley said, “I do support the taping of closed sessions. It not only assures the board of an accurate record of what has been said and what has been accomplished, but also provides the opportunity for complete transparency when allowed by law.”

Anderson said, “Philosophically, I am not in favor of tax-increment financing for development, as it often accrues to the benefit of one new business over and against a similar existing business in the area without materially adding to the city’s revenues. However, I am not rigidly opposed to the use of TIF or other tax tools when necessary to further a development that has a good prospect of sustainable, substantial revenue generation.

“Given the level of competition for retail development in St. Louis County and the pervasive role TIF plays in the process, it is difficult to expect a major redevelopment to occur without the use of some sort of TIF or other tax tools. It is important that the project be carefully examined to make sure it offers the prospect of sustained substantial revenue generation and that the TIF is kept to the minimum amount necessary to advance the development. The true measure of a TIF is whether it results in long-term benefits to the residents.”

Beezley said, “Reality must be the paramount factor in deciding what economic tools to be employed. While TIFs may be a good idea gone bad in certain instances, they are currently one of the tools that may be a necessary part of a community development — to allow for a community to thrive again.

“In today’s day and age, there are very few significant projects that have been recently developed in the St. Louis region that have not included a TIF — Menards in Brentwood, IKEA in the city and many more.”

Anderson said, “No, I do not see a present need for a tax-rate increase. The city’s financial condition improved over the course of 2014 and sales-tax revenues are trending upward. The city’s cash position should be sufficient to provide serves. If the sales-tax revenues should steadily decline or unexpected expenses arise, the question of a tax increase may have to be placed before voters for approval.

“I want to make clear that any proposed tax increase placed before voters should have a dedicated purpose, the amount levied should not exceed the need for which the income is sought and the increase should have an expiration date.”

Beezley said, “For decades we have had an economic engine — at this point in time in order to maintain the level of services that a vibrant city can provide, all options have to be on the table. If a tax increase is indicated, it has to be placed to a vote of the residents.”

Anderson said, “The city is contractually obligated to pay the Affton Fire Protection District for services in respect to an area Crestwood annexed. Crestwood is not the only city with this problem. As reported in the Post-Dispatch on Feb. 21, 2015, Hazelwood has similar problems with the Robertson Fire District. We need to join with Hazelwood and others to seek some sort of resolution. We need to work with our fire union and with our legislators in Jefferson City to come up with an equitable solution.”

Beezley said, “Fire districts are established by legislation, which would require legislative reconsideration.”

Anderson said “I am generally opposed to the use of eminent domain for redevelopment projects. If the issue would come to the board, I would have to be convinced the proposal is clearly necessary and fair to all parties, including the city and its residents.”

Beezley said, “Any situations of this nature require full assessment and consideration with all parties involved before final decision-making. As part of any decision, the definition on eminent domain established by our Founding Fathers needs thoughtful consideration.”

Anderson said, “I believe the city generally seeks to adhere to the Sunshine Law, but there have been occasions when differences of opinion between some aldermen and the city attorney have arisen over its application to a given circumstance. I support governmental transparency and would welcome an expansive interpretation of the statute.’

Beezley said, “Yes.”

Anderson said, “I voted against Proposition 1 in 2008 because the city passed Proposition 2 in 2006, which increased the city’s tax rate and with that increase, I felt the city’s improved financial position did not require an additional substantial tax increase. I believe the passage of time, the early termination of the Prop S tax and the improved financial condition of the city since 2008 validate my vote for Prop S in 2006 and against Prop 1 in 2008.”

Beezley said, “I supported Prop 1 as I felt at the time, in light of our declining revenues from the mall, that it would have enabled us to continue to maintain the level of our services similar to that of a vibrant community. The failure of Prop 1 resulted in the loss of a number of valuable city positions.”

Anderson said, “The city’s budget for 2015 sets forth a plan of expenditures that when compared to anticipated current revenues spends more funds than the city expects to receive in tax revenues. This obviously is not a good situate. The city does have a fair cash balance in the general fund and will not have to borrow money to meet the anticipated expenses this year.

“However, the general fund, as one component of the the budget, has a projected operating deficit this year of over $400,000. If this deficit carries into following years, the city may be faced with the prospect of a tax increase in the not too distant future. If elected, I will work to eliminate the general fund deficit.”

Beezley said, “In recent years, the city has enacted a series of cuts that have impacted delivery and level of service to our residents. In my view, any further cuts will reduce our ability to provide those vital services effectively and efficiently for the safer and security within our community. Budget deficits are typically evidenced at the end of a fiscal/calendar cycle.”

Anderson said, “Generally yes, I believe the city has been able to attract quality employees. However, the city has lost a lot of experienced employees over the past two years. And the finance officer position has been in a state of flux for various reasons for almost two years. I would urge the hiring of a full-time finance officer as soon as possible.”

Beezley said, “Yes, I am satisfied Having been a ‘boss’ of many employees over my career — when an employee leaves an organization, it many times is for a reason either on their part of the organization’s part. I feel the city now has a staff that is doing their best to work together as a team.”

Anderson said, “I support a redevelopment of Crestwood Plaza that uses tax-increment financing in a reasonable amount for a development that has the realistic prospect of meeting the needs of Crestwood citizens and the developer. Here is why: Given the poor condition of the existing structures on the site and its topography, it seems inevitable that before new development begins, buildings will have to be demolished and substantial ground filled and graded.

“We can anticipate significant costs to transform the site. With these costs in mind and the reality of how commercial development is financed in the St. Louis area, a TIF of some magnitude will be expected and deemed necessary for the project to go forward. In considering the redevelopment of the Plaza, I will weigh the amount of the requested TIF against the development’s ability to generate revenues to pay off the TIF in a timely manner and benefit the city through increased tax revenues.”

Beezley said, “I will evaluate and support whatever is necessary and legal in the pursuit to revitalize our community and our former Crestwood Plaza. To my knowledge, at this point in time no additional/potential redevelopment has been proposed.”

Anderson said, “I believe the Beautification Committee will be a real asset to the city and applaud all those who volunteer their time and efforts to promote Crestwood as a great place to live and raise a family. Hopefully, the committee can call upon the community for substantial support.

“I don’t want to quibble, but an allocation of $10,000 for the committee at its inception is probably more than I would have approved. Certainly, I would be amenable to consider the projects of the committee, recognizing that those projects may entail the expenditure of city funds.”

Beezley said, “Efforts within reason that are supported by the aldermanic team, that are striving to provide a positive face to our community, I feel is a worthwhile endeavor.”

Anderson said, “It would be my goal that the city adopts a balanced budget each year, for that is always a good financial practice. Talking specifically about the general fund, I would support the use of reserves to meet the budgeted expenditures, provided that the city does not drop below a base reserve amount, probably $2 million for the general fund, and there is a plan to get back to a balanced budget in the following year.”

Beezley said, “yes, I support a balanced-budget process. It is not an uncommon practice for government entities and businesses to balance the budget with reserves — it should be Crestwood leadership’s goal and vision to build back our community so this is no longer an issue.”

Anderson said, “Yes, the city should continue to provide meeting notices to the media. In fact, it would be just as easy for the city clerk to send a group email to all parties that sign up to receive timely meeting notices.”

Beezley said, “There should not be obstacles to the working press fulfilling their functions.”

Anderson said, “Generally, I support the performance of the city attorney.”

Beezley said, “I support and would work collaboratively with the attorneys that are hired by the city and confirmed by a majority vote of the aldermanic team to perform city functions.”

Anderson said, “No, the city does not need and should not build a new Government Center,”

Beezley said “I support that funding be made available to maintain in a safe and secure fashion our current Government Center. The community’s Government Center is presently in need of significant repairs and in my view it is the Ways and Means Committee’s ongoing responsibility to adequately assess needs such as this and make appropriate allocation of funding to support safe and secure maintenance of our community’s government properties.”

Anderson said, “There is always a concern with rising costs. And, yes, I am concerned about legal bills that appear to be on the high side. There needs to be some explanation of what extra legal work is being done and why. It gets back to transparency and accountability.”

Beezley said, “Legal counsel is necessary and vital to protect the city for a variety of issues that can arise.

“If the city administrator is monitoring the legal bills and the aldermanic team is provided a regular monthly report of the billings for review and analysis, in my view this is an administrative function. Aldermanic alerts, and as indicated, their responses are necessary when there are variances from budget line items.”