Proposed Crestwood 2008 budget now projecting surplus

Crestwood issues statement regarding Brown’s resignation

By BURKE WASSON

After once seeing an estimated deficit of nearly $250,000 in its three major funds for 2008, Crestwood aldermen and officials last week took steps to project a surplus of $38,980 in those funds.

Aldermen slashed $153,469 from the city’s 2008 budget during an Oct. 30 work session.

The board’s biggest subtraction was erasing $113,469 from the city’s proposed economic-development budget, which included the elimination of the position of economic and community development manager.

Aldermen voted 5-2 to recommend eliminating that position from the 2008 budget with Ward 1 Alderman Richard Bland and Ward 2 Alderman Chris Pickel voting “no.” Ward 2 Alderman Steve Knarr was excused from the Oct. 30 meeting.

Aldermen then voted 7-0 to cut remaining expenses in that proposed economic-development position’s budget.

That decision was made simpler after aldermen voted 5-2 in a closed session be-fore the Oct. 30 work session to accept the resignation of Economic Development and Community Manager Tryla Brown and also supply her with five weeks’ additional compensation in the lump-sum amount of $5,721.15.

Board of Aldermen President Gregg Roby of Ward 3 and Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder were the two “no” votes.

In a statement released last week by the city, the decision to accept Brown’s resignation was made because of a desire to restructure the position.

The statement reads: “The city of Crest-wood and its economic and community development manager have mutually agreed to end their employment relationship. Tryla Brown, who was hired in June 2007, has voluntarily resigned as of Oct. 26, 2007.

“This will allow the city to explore the possibility of restructuring the position in 2008 to better fit the needs of the city in the most cost-effective manner. According to the city, the resignation and potential restructuring could result in significant savings in payroll costs on an annual basis. The city has also agreed to provide an additional five weeks’ compensation to Ms. Brown to assist in her transition to a new career.”

Aldermen last week also recommended two additional cuts — $30,000 from the capital-improvements fund for a new sound system in the Government Center and $10,000 from the general fund for employment-security benefits.

As of last week, the city is now slated to see a revenues-over-expenditures surplus of $38,980 for 2008 in its three major funds — general, capital improvements and park and stormwater.

The city’s general fund now projects a surplus of $123,461 while the park and stormwater fund faces a $73,413 deficit. The capital-improvements fund is projected to be in the red by $11,068.

The city’s general fund now projects $9,013,930 in revenues and $8,956,469 in expenditures.

That fund also will receive a $155,000 transfer from the capital-improvements fund and then transfer $89,000 out of the general fund to the park and stormwater fund.

The capital-improvements fund is budgeted to see $1,492,502 in revenues and $1,348,570 in expenditures. Because of its $155,000 transfer to the general fund, the capital-improvements fund is projected to end 2008 with an $11,068 deficit.

The park and stormwater fund estimates $2,161,972 in revenues and $2,341,916 in expenditures.

While the park and stormwater fund will benefit from an $89,000 transfer from the general fund and a $17,532 transfer from the now-defunct performing-arts fund, it still projects a deficit of $73,413 in 2008.

Before aldermen were given a chance to recommend cuts to the 2008 budget, the city’s Ways and Means Committee made several cuts and additions to the budget.

Among the budget additions requested by the Ways and Means Committee, comprised of Mayor Roy Robinson, Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel and Ward 4 Alderman John Foote, were:

• $99,460 retained in the budget for one 2.5-ton dump truck after the committee initially recommended its removal. The 2008 budget has the purchase of two such dump trucks earmarked.

• $30,000 for “any legal services rendered through the redevelopment process for the Crestwood Mall.”

• $18,000 retained in the budget for two seasonal park workers after the administration recommended cutting those two positions.

• $8,000 for “additional professional services associated with the redevelopment of the Crestwood Mall.”

• $1,200 as a stipend for a resident manager in the city’s historic-facilities budget.

• $900 to allow the city’s municipal court to transfer detainees with “mental-health conditions” to St. Louis County.

The Ways and Means Committee also recommended the following cuts:

• $25,000 for a new phone system at the Crestwood Government Center.

• $3,000 to hire an outside consultant for annual strategic-planning sessions. The Ways and Means Committee recommended that City Administrator Frank Myers facilitate discussion at next year’s sessions.

Among the budgeted expenditures for 2008 is a $471,317 principal and interest payment out of the general fund to the city’s seven-year annual-appropriation note with Royal Banks of Missouri. That note, approved in October 2006 by the Board of Aldermen, transferred Crest-wood’s remaining $2.87 million in debt at that time from a promissory note and line of credit with Southwest Bank to Royal Banks of Missouri.

This year, the city paid $553,708 in principal to that note, which is funded from Proposition S — a seven-year, tax-rate in-crease of 20 cents $100 of assessed valuation designed to pay off the city’s debt and approved by voters in April 2006.

Myers also has factored a loss of $340,000 in sales-tax revenue in the 2008 budget because of Dillard’s recent closing at the Westfield Shoppingtown Crestwood.

He also included a continuing “downward trend” in the city’s sales-tax revenues, which account for 53 percent of the city’s overall budget.

Aldermen already have taken steps to help redevelop the mall by unanimously approving the issuance of an RDP, or request for development proposals, to 82 prospective developers.

The mall has experienced annual revenue declines of 13 percent over the past several years, according to city officials.

While city officials have not ruled out any possibilities to redevelop the mall area, they would consider an open-air, town-center style and are open to offering certain incentives to interested developers.

Within the request for development proposals sent to developers, city officials are open to using available economic-development tools like tax-increment financing, or TIF; a transportation-development district, or TDD; and a community-improvement district, or CID.