City needs to address AFPD costs, resident says

Crestwood paid fire district more than $450,000 in ’12

By Kari Williams

One resident believes Crestwood officials need to address the rising cost of the city’s payments to the Affton Fire Protection District before the Board of Aldermen places a tax-rate increase before voters.

Ron Herring told the Board of Aldermen last week he agrees with the need for a tax-rate increase – but not until concerns about the Affton Fire Protection District, or AFPD, are addressed.

“Until this group of people does something about the tax-flow problem with the Affton Fire District, I don’t see how you can, in good faith, ask us taxpayers to pay more money …,” Herring said.

A 290-acre section of Crestwood, between Grant and Rock Hill roads, was annexed by the city in 1997 and is served by the AFPD.

Properties in the annexed area have the AFPD’s tax rates, and Crestwood is required to make payments to the AFPD based on the assessed valuation of homes in the annexed area, multiplied by the Affton tax rate.

Affton voters last April approved a 26-cent tax-rate increase for the fire district, increasing Crestwood’s costs.

In 2011, Crestwood paid the fire district $344,196.64. In December 2012, Crestwood paid the AFPD $450,779.15.

Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel told the board if a tax-rate increase will be put on the ballot in August that process “needs to be accomplished by this board.”

Ward 4 Alderman John Foote said Miguel made an “excellent point” and the city does not “have a whole lot of options open to (it).”

“We need to really take a good, hard look at our revenue streams and make sure those are sufficient to cover our bases,” Foote said, “and if not, we certainly need to bring our residents on board and familiarize them with what we face and allow their input to move along and support their wishes.”

Ward 2 Alderman Tim Trueblood requested city staff bring the following in-formation to the board for its next meeting: whether it is legal to include in the ballot language for tax-rate increase that the funds, if approved, would be used to “pay for the Affton Fire District costs,” and what the change in the tax rate would need to be to account for costs paid to the AFPD.

Resident Dave Brophy told the board it was “unfortunate” that new City Administrator Mark Sime was not involved in the tax-rate-increase conversation.

“I think it’s very important that as soon as possible he begin attending these meetings and be a participant in any tax discussions of sales tax and requirements for it,” Brophy said. “I believe that his knowledge and background and potential input will be very important to the process … I would feel much more comfortable if the new city administrator plays an active role right from the beginning of the discussion.”

Mayor Jeff Schlink said involving Sime in the discussion is officials’ intention.

Sime was in attendance, but did not speak regarding the potential tax-rate increase ballot measure.