First reading of measure to defease bond-like certificates conducted

Sixth in a series


Executive Editor

An ordinance authorizing the defeasance of bond-like certificates issued to fund the construction of a new police station was read for the first time last week by the Crest-wood Board of Aldermen.

No vote was taken Aug. 25 by the board. Aldermen will consider final approval of the measure when they meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at City Hall, 1 Detjen Drive.

Aldermen adopted a resolution in July authorizing City Administrator Don Greer to initiate the process of defeasing the certificates issued in late 2002 to fund the construction of the police facility.

The resolution states the board intends to defease the certificates before Oct. 15 when a principal and interest payment to-taling roughly $553,500 is due.

Defeasing the balance of the $9.83 million in certificates of participation, or COPs, issued to fund the police facility would bring an end to the project, which has become a focal point of residents’ dissatisfaction with the city’s precarious financial condition.

Roughly $1.6 million has been spent to date on the project.

Voters in August 2002 approved Proposi-tion S, the extension of a half-cent sales tax to fund construction of a new police building, fund repairs at the Government Center and allow the continuation of the city’s street repair and replacement program. The half-cent, capital-improvements sales tax had been scheduled to end in 2008, but voter approval of Proposition S extended the sales tax until 2023.

As the Crestwood Board of Aldermen moves toward halting the construction of the police facility, the Call continues its review of the project that dates back more than five years ago to May 2000.

The sixth installment of the chronology of the police facility project, based on city documents and published accounts in the Call, picks up in March 2005:

• March 23, 2005 — During a candidate mayoral forum sponsored by the Gravois Township Republicans, Mayor Tom Fagan and former Alderman Roy Robinson are asked what they would do with the money if the retrofitting of City Hall to include a new police facility was not done.

Robinson said, “Well, first of all, that’s a big debt and I would like to see us get rid of those COPs (certificates of participation) bonds and try again. That would relieve us of about $12 million of debt and we have right now $24 million worth of debt, as I said before. If we got rid of those or we reduce, if the board was willing to reduce the size of the Taj Mahal, we could be able to save probably $2 million or $3 million. I’m not a construction worker, but I know that the bigger you are the more it costs, the more the maintenance, more the cleaning, more of everything it’s going to cost this city. So if we reduce the size and the board was agreeable, we could probably — and I’m pretty sure that we could take that money that’s saved and use it on our streets …”

Fagan said, “If the police building’s not built, I think what you have to do is return the bonds. You could defease them as one of the aldermen has suggested. The board has voted on this several times and has decided not to. It has been discussed ad nauseum. Secondly, my opponent, he criticizes the present board for redesigning it, yet he’s saying we don’t need the so-called Taj Mahal, we ought to redesign it. Guess what? We’re going to pay a heck of a lot more design fees for that. Thirdly, I’d like to talk about the streets. It’s interesting, my opponent was on the board from 1988 to 1992. Very little money was spent on streets, very little money …”

• March 24, 2005 — The mayoral candidates gave these responses to a Call questionnaire:

The Board of Aldermen recently voted to seek bids for the “retrofitting” of City Hall to include a new police facility. Do you support this decision?

Fagan said, “Yes. Our current Police De-partment facilities are undersized and the retrofitting of City Hall will alleviate this difficulty.”

Robinson said, “I do not support the Board of Aldermen’s vote on the retrofitting of City Hall. This is not the time to continue this project. The renovation needs to be reviewed and changes need to be made to the Police Department portion. The new Police Department project is absolutely more than a city the size of Crestwood needs and it looks like a Taj Mahal, which is out of character for our city. Saving, not spending, is what is needed on this project. We can do a renovation, but not like the one the board approved. Monies saved can be spent on the street program.”

Do you support the defeasing of the certificates of participation — COPs — issued to fund the retrofitting of City Hall? Why or why not? If you support defeasing the COPs, do you believe the half-cent capital-improvement sales tax should revert to its original sunset — 2008?

Fagan said, “No. The citizens of Crest-wood voted for the extension of the capital-improvement sales tax with the understanding a new police facility would be constructed.”

Robinson said, “I believe defeasing of the certificates of participation — COPs — to retrofit City Hall should be considered as an option if the city can do it without losing a large amount of the tax revenue. If the city continues a renovation but reduces the size of the police building portion, to a more realistic size, the savings could be used for other capital improvements then the tax should not revert to the 2008 sunset.”

The chronology continues next week.