Reader will vote against Crestwood tax hike, county tax increase April 4

To the editor:

Crestwood residents will consider two tax increases exceeding $2 million for Crestwood in the April election.

Crestwood residents are only 1.2 percent of the county population. Consequently, the county’s half-cent sales-tax increase, which revenue data for half-cent sales taxes in the 2017 budget clearly indicate will raise over $1 million, is unlikely to be able to be defeated. However, the roughly $1,130,000 in Crestwood city property tax increases which can be used for any “general municipal purposes” according to the ballot language, i.e., a blank check, can be blocked.

As reported in the Call, Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel has pointed out that a family of two, such as a Social Security couple, living in an approximately average $200,000 home will pay almost $340 more in taxes per year if both increases pass. A family of four living in a similar home will pay an increase of nearly $500 per year.

In my opinion, these taxes will also lead to higher prices at Crestwood businesses and will encourage businesses and customers to avoid Crestwood. For example, the sales tax at the mall redevelopment would be over 11 percent and the proprietors will likely pass on the commercial property-tax increase to customers as well.

According to the Census Bureau in September, the 2015 median household income for the United States is $56,516. Real (inflation-adjusted) median household income peaked in 2007 at $57,423 and is now $907 or 1.6 percent lower.

Census Bureau information for 2015 for Crestwood in inflation-adjusted dollars shows that the median household income is $64,763. The mean Social Security income for the 35.6 percent of Crestwood households receiving it is $19,816 for entire households. Further, the data states that 5.4 percent or 646 people are below the poverty level.

At the same time, City Administrator Kris Simpson’s financial forecast for 2017-2021 indicates that employee costs are 77 percent of the general fund. The average cost for an individual city employee, including salary and fringe benefits, is about $74,000 per year. For city employees the average salary has declined by $393 during the period from 2009 to 2016. This is deceptive, however, as separated employees are likely being replaced by newer employees who are hired at lower wages. I do not believe that city employees were or are under compensated.

Since Crestwood voters are unlikely to be able to determine the outcome of the county sales-tax increase and can only determine the passage of the Crestwood property-tax increase, I will vote against both issues and recommend that you do so as well.