Crestwood revenue panel presents suggestions

Revenue Committee submits myriad of ideas to aldermen

By BURKE WASSON

A Revenue Committee of residents appointed last fall to study ways of enhancing Crestwood’s revenue has developed its final recommendations.

Those suggestions were set to be presented to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night — after the Call went to press.

The Revenue Committee met Jan. 20 and Feb. 3 and has decided to submit the following suggestions for the Board of Aldermen’s consideration:

• Start an adopt-a-brick program at Whitecliff Park.

• Instruct the City Clerk’s Office to “review all license fees and recommend modifications if appropriate.”

• “Consider a properly marketed and well-explained property-tax increase. Prudent expenditure cuts should be implemented prior to the marketing of the tax increase.” City voters last August rejected the proposed six-year, 35-cent property-tax increase Proposition 1.

• Continue to search and apply for grants.

• Encourage corporate sponsorships on city-owned property.

• Consider fee increases and policy changes at Whitecliff Park’s Community Center and Aquatic Center. The Revenue Committee notes that this already is being discussed by the parks and recreation staff and the Park Board.

• Encourage community events at the Crestwood Court mall in an effort to generate traffic. The Revenue Committee also encourages civic groups and organizations to partner with Crestwood Court to create these events.

• Implement a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to solicit park donations.

• Instruct the Public Works Department to “review all permit fees and recommend modifications if appropriate.”

• “Review red-light cameras and determine whether such devices should be implemented in the city of Crestwood.”

Board of Aldermen President Chris Pickel, who chaired the Revenue Committee, has emphasized that the Revenue Committee strictly is advisory and that its ideas will be recommended to aldermen, who could then act on them.

Aldermen in November decided to appoint citizens to a Revenue Committee as a way of enhancing revenue to a city that will be forced to use cash reserves to balance its finances in 2009.

The committee is comprised of six members, each appointed by an alderman.

Ward 1 Alderman Carol McGee appointed Laurie Wallach, Ward 2 Alderman Michael Kelsch appointed George Krumm, Pickel appointed former Ward 2 Alderman Steve Knarr, Ward 3 Alderman Gregg Roby appointed Marilee Sauer, Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel appointed Frank Spinner and Ward 4 Alderman John Foote appointed Stephen Bilderbach.

Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland and Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder did not appoint a citizen to serve on the committee.

Crestwood aldermen in December approved a 2009 budget authorizing the use of more than $600,000 in reserves to balance it.

The city had an estimated $3.4 million in reserves across all three of its major funds as of Jan. 1.

The scheduled April 1 closing of Macy’s has further tightened city officials’ wallets and forced aldermen to follow through on City Administrator Jim Eckrich’s recommendation to cut $237,900 from the city’s 2009 originally budgeted expenses of roughly $13.7 million.

Eckrich estimates that the April 1 closing of Macy’s will result in a 2009 revenue loss of $181,000. But in 2010, city officials believe the Macy’s closing will result in an estimated $350,000 loss of revenue from sales taxes and license fees.

To further combat declining revenues, Eckrich this week recommended average annual expenditure reductions of $2.28 million from 2010 through 2013 in the city’ three major funds — general fund, capital-improvements fund and park and stormwater fund.

With these cuts, Eckrich said the city should maintain a minimum start-of-the-year cash balance in all three major funds of 10 percent of total budgeted expenditures each year through 2013. He believes the city’s goal should be a cash balance of 20 percent of budgeted expenditures.

Eckrich estimates that Crestwood’s Dec. 31 major-fund cash balances will total $1,968,855 in 2009, $1,811,844 in 2010, $1,519,094 in 2011, $1,579,743 in 2012 and $1,360,527 in 2013.