Holiday shopping season generates $670,000 for Crestwood

By Mike Anthony

The holiday shopping season generated roughly $670,000 in sales-tax revenue for the city of Crestwood, according to City Administrator Don Greer.

The amount of revenue was about $36,000 less than the $706,000 in sales-tax revenue city officials had projected the holiday shopping season would generate.

“… The last check, that was our big one. That’s the one we really know how close we’re going to be and based on our projection, we had anticipated a check of just a little over $700,000 and we got $670,000, so there was a roughly $36,000 difference,” Greer told the Call March 11, two days after the city received the sales-tax revenue generated by the holiday shopping season. “For the fiscal year that began last July 1, that puts us $323,000 behind where we would anticipate, roughly 7.8 percent.”

Despite receiving slightly less sales-tax revenue than projected from the holiday shopping season, Greer said that based on this check and after reviewing past checks, “We now feel like we’re able to predict, given a reasonable trend, that we can identify a worst-case scenario for missing on sales tax or how far we could potentially miss and right now we’re estimating it could be as much as 10 percent.

“That’s kind of the ceiling. I don’t think we’ll be any further off than that. The trend is less than that actually, but, again, we want to plan for the worst-case scenario. That, to me, means worst-case scenario and we’re planning on a 10 percent shortfall on sales tax and roughly that’s $411,000.”

City officials have been studying “what things we can affect, both immediately and long term. On the positive side, so far we’ve received $57,776 in fire sales tax,” Greer said, noting that no proceeds from the fire sales tax, approved by voters last August, were included in the revenue projections for the current fiscal year.

“Nothing was anticipated for the fire sales tax in this current year. So that’s a good thing and we’ll have three more checks in this fiscal year for the fire tax, too. That should help offset some of where we are.”

A recently revised fiscal 2004 budget puts general fund expenditures at $8,547,557, while Greer and Director of Finance Diana Madrid now project general fund revenues of $8,020,971 — a shortfall of $526,586.

However, expenditures have been running at 6 percent less than projected, a savings of roughly $512,000, according to Greer.

“So I mean that puts us really close right there,” he said. “However, we have additional known expenses (and) the board’s going to have to adjust the budget.”

Those additional expenses primarily are a result of a forensic audit, a petition audit, legal expenses and higher-than-anticipated insurance costs, Greer said, noting that he would consider a shortfall of less than $200,000 “to be the absolute worst-case scenario … Right now it’s just slightly more than $190,000 that we think we could potentially be short.”

While sales-tax revenue may be lagging behind projections, all other revenues are coming in at or above projections. Except for the fire sales tax, “We have not adjusted any of these numbers in anticipation of additional receipts either,” he said.

A work session for the Board of Aldermen to discuss the city’s finances will be conducted at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 20, at City Hall, 1 Detjen Drive. Aldermen could discuss a variety of topics during the work session, ranging from cost-cutting measures to revenue enhancements, according to the city administrator.

“… I’m still of the opinion if the economy holds the way it is, that we’ve got some efficiencies yet that we have to identify in order to move forward in the future years. Part of the responsibility we’ve got is not only balancing each year, but getting cash reserves built back up … I think we’re at a manageable point,” Greer said. “I don’t want to sound too comfortable, but I do believe we’re doing the right things on the expense side. We are also in the process of identifying a number of potential cost-cutting measures, services. We have started an analysis of a number of our revenues, how they’re constructed …”

In preparing the city’s fiscal 2004 budget, Greer had reduced the city’s total expense position by roughly $700,000 compared to the previous fiscal year by consolidating operations and eliminating a dozen positions. Given that, future cuts without impacting services may be difficult, if not impossible.

“That’s it. I mean there’s nothing to cut. The savings, the 6 percent stream, is based largely upon the efficiencies and holding the line every chance that people get. That doesn’t mean I can cut a half-million dollars out of next year’s budget … We still have to provide services. And so the approach I’m taking is to take look at the services themselves …,” Greer said.

During the March 9 Board of Aldermen meeting, preliminary financial statements for the previous fiscal year were presented by Larry Pevnick of Brown Smith Wallace, the city’s independent auditor. Pevnick said the completed fiscal 2003 audit will be presented at the Tuesday, March 23, Board of Aldermen meeting.

In other business March 9, aldermen:

• Voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance selecting G.J. Grewe Inc. as the preferred developer for the redevelopment of the Watson Plaza shopping center and to refer G.J. Grewe’s redevelopment proposal to the city’s Tax-Increment Financing Commission. The board’s action also approved a preliminary funding agreement in which the company will provide $50,000 for legal, planning and consulting services involved in the redevelopment process.

In its plan, G.J. Grewe proposes a PETCO and a new Walgreens on the site of the vacant Tippin’s restaurant as well as retaining the shopping center’s existing tenants.

• Tabled a resolution rededicating the Crestwood Community Center in Whitecliff Park as the Patricia A. Killoren Community Center.

Patricia A. Killoren, who died of cancer last month in Cape Coral, Fla., served as the city’s mayor from 1978 to 1995. She was the city’s longest serving mayor and the first woman to be elected mayor in St. Louis County. She also served as a Ward 1 alderman from 1972 to 1978.

In a letter to Acting Mayor Richard Breeding, former Mayor Jim Brasfield urged aldermen to consider naming a public building, such as the Community Center, after Killoren.

Regarding the resolution, Breeding said, “… We’ve decided to table that and (Ward 4) Alderman (Pat) Duwe has volunteered to head up a committee to find the proper way to honor her. What we found was a lot of residents had input that really wanted to be heard, and so instead of rushing this, we’re going to have Alderman Duwe lead a committee that will be made up of a couple aldermen and some citizens and let them take their time and decide what’s the best way to honor the former mayor who served us for so many years. So she’ll be in charge of that committee and you’ll hear more from her in the upcoming weeks.”