Crestwood citizen won’t support tax-rate hike ‘based on uncertainty’

Crestwood citizens are being asked by a greedy government to support Proposition 1 in the August election.

This is a government whose fiscal responsibility has been typified by alternating financial crises and happy times, but also by tax increase after tax increase on residents and businesses the past few years.

However, according to reports in the Call, audits by the city’s auditors reveal that Crestwood government ended 2006 with a positive cash balance over $6 million and 2007 with a positive balance of nearly $7.4 million.

In other words, while sales-tax revenues from the mall were seriously declining, the financial condition of the government improved by over 20 percent. Of course, this led the mayor and the Board of Aldermen to go on a spending spree during the first quarter of this year with general-fund expenditures exceeding revenues by approximately $2 million.

Crestwood residents, did your financial condition improve by over 20 percent in 2007 and did this allow you to go on a spending spree this year? I doubt it. But if it did, I suggest that you support Proposition 1. Otherwise, you may want to follow an alternative course of action.

The ravenous Crestwood government is trying to mine senior citizens for the gold in their golden years. This is through a substantial six-year, 35-cents-per-$100 increase in their property taxes that may need to be made permanent eventually since city-employee salaries may be raised significantly more than their 2-percent raises of the last few years.

While boasting that the tax increase will be only $133 per year on a property appraised by the county of $200,000, what the government fails to tell you is that is over a 5.8-percent increase in your total county real-estate taxes. The 2008 cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients is 2.3 percent, and the Medicare increase took a big bite out of that.

City employees are not underpaid, and their 2-percent pay raises have not been miserly in view of this. In fact, senior citizens have been generous.

However, seniors who support increases of 5.8 percent in their taxes while they themselves receive considerably smaller increases threaten the long-term financial security of other Crestwood residents.

Further, it is not good news that there may well be multiple tax increases on the August and November ballots. You should seriously consider whether or not you want the long-term financial security of senior citizens jeopardized before you vote on Proposition 1.

What is also troublesome is that Proposition 1 may well be unnecessary. There are several options and alternatives to Proposition 1 that the mayor and the Board of Aldermen for some reason have chosen not to publicly consider in detail either singly or in combination before the August ballot. For example, one alternative is to change the city from a point-of-sale city to a pool city like Webster Groves.

Finally, the mayor has reportedly told the new owners of the Crestwood mall that it will be redeveloped in phases to ease the impact on the finances of the city. Apparently, this should alleviate any severe financial trauma to the city due to redevelopment.

Of course, the new owners of the mall may choose to do something different or to not even proceed with redevelopment at all.

But at this point before the carrots of tax-increment financing, transportation-development districts and community-improvement districts are secured, all we have is relative public silence from the new owners, who are the major players who will decide the ultimate future of the mall.

I will not support a property-tax increase that is based on uncertainty.

David Brophy