Time for Crestwood residents to voice their opinions on service cuts

I am sending this letter to each of the city of Crestwood’s 9,000 registered voters. Your elected officials must cut more than $1 million in expenditures to balance the city’s 2010 budget.

As you may have read, Crestwood’s 2009 budget is utilizing $600,000 in cash reserves to finance our present level of services. This is necessary because due to store closures over the last several years, the city’s sales-tax revenue can no longer support the city’s current service costs. The April closure of Macy’s will only make this situation worse.

When the Board of Aldermen considers expenditures to cut, I want to let you know that everything will be considered. This includes administration, animal control, fire, parks, police, public works and street maintenance.

Cuts of the magnitude required will affect all residents. The cuts will also affect those valuable employees of the city who will lose their jobs.

Despite my best efforts as a longtime resident and a first-term alderman, I just don’t believe that residents understand how the loss of sales-tax revenues has impacted the city. Crestwood residents have known we are overly reliant on sales tax for some time, and such was even reported as part of the Crestwood 2000 report, which included a survey of 4,000 residents. The recent economic downturn and loss of businesses has proved this to be true.

In August 2008, residents voted down a 35-cent property-tax increase designed to offset the loss of sales-tax revenue and help balance the city’s budget.

This was despite the fact that the city’s current property-tax rate of 37.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — 20.9 cents for services and 17 cents for the Proposition S debt payoff — is far less than the rates in our neighboring cities of Kirkwood, 65.1 cents; Webster Groves, 80.4 cents; and Sunset Hills, 55.9 cents for residents served by the Mehlville Fire Protection District and 62 cents for residents served by the Fenton Fire Protection District.

Of the city’s 9,000 registered voters, 6,000 did not even bother to vote in this election.

Democracy gives each of us a vote and a choice in how we run our city. Unless you voice your opinions on the loss of city services, someone else will decide what services go or remain.

We hope you like the choices they will make.

John Foote

Crestwood Ward 4 alderman