Unanimous Crestwood board puts 20-cent tax hike on ballot

By MIKE ANTHONY

A unanimous Crestwood Board of Alder-men voted last week to place a 20-cent tax-rate increase on the April 4 ballot.

As proposed, the 20-cent tax-rate in-crease would have a seven-year sunset provision after which the city no longer would collect the additional 20 cents. As originally proposed, the tax-rate increase would have had a nine-year sunset.

If approved, a 20-cent tax-rate increase would generate roughly $540,000 annually, and would be used to pay off any loans or indebtedness, eliminate any encumbrances on city-owned property and provide sufficient funds for cash flow to re-move the need for a line of credit.

“… That’s almost music in my ears that we have complete agreement with the board,” Mayor Roy Robinson said Jan. 17 after the board’s unanimous vote. “And we’ll go forward and now we can inform the people who are very anxiously awaiting to get busy to get this thing approved, and we thank you.”

If the 20-cent tax-rate increase is approved by voters, the city’s residential tax rate would increase to 44.1 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, while the city’s personal property tax rate would increase to 45 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The city’s commercial tax rate would in-crease to 46.3 cents per $100.

The first reading of the ordinance to place the 20-cent tax-rate increase on the April 4 ballot was conducted near the end of a more-than-six-hour meeting Jan. 10. Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel voted against a second reading of the ordinance, while Ward 3 Alderman Don Maddox was absent.

Under the City Charter, at least one week must elapse between introduction and final passage of an ordinance unless an immediate second reading is approved by unanimous vote of the Board of Aldermen. All eight aldermen were present at the Jan. 17 meeting.

During the board’s Jan. 10 discussion of the proposal, Mayor Roy Robinson first expressed doubts about placing a tax-rate increase on the April ballot, suggesting August might be a better time. But he later assured aldermen and residents that he would support a tax-rate increase if one was placed before voters in April.

Miguel, however, expressed concerns at the Jan. 10 meeting about placing a tax-rate increase before voters in April, saying at one point, “It seems to me that we need at least five or six months to prepare for a tax issue if we really want to do a good job of presenting it and have a good expectation of it passing … I do not feel good about an April election …”

At the Jan. 10 meeting, some aldermen, particularly Jim Kelleher of Ward 2, said they believed that to obtain passage of a tax-rate increase, the board must be united.

Kelleher reiterated those remarks Jan. 17, saying, “… I’m going to be a broken record, but I said it in December of 2004 and I said it at the last meeting, and I’ve said it a previous meetings: I don’t believe that this has a chance of passing if we are not unified as a board and that’s why my arguments were so pointed last time …”

Referring to Maddox and Miguel, Kelle-her said, “… I believe that if you two don’t get behind this then it is doomed to fail …”

At the beginning of last week’s meeting, Robinson also called for a unified board.

“… Please remember that we need to send a message to our community that this board, on this issue, is together and that their mayor also supports this issue …,” he said.