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Time for Crestwood residents to speak up


Letter to the editor


To the editor:

The city of Crestwood in 2003 had less than 12,000 residents living in just 3.6 square miles, yet budgeted costs of over $12.5 million of your tax money for spending.

If you live in Crestwood and read the SunCrest Call, you know the general fund is over spent by more than $800,000. In the fall of '03 Crestwood needed to establish a bank line of credit for about $1.2 million to cover operating expenses in the general fund through the 2004 budget year.

In past years Crestwood spent money on not only street repairs but total street replacement as well as capital improvements on parks and stormwater problems. Costs were up and going higher.

To grow city services, the city requested and the voters approved a parks and stormwater sales tax and extended the capital improvements tax.

With the parks and stormwater tax approved, the Board of Aldermen built a new aquatic center. The extension of the capital improvements tax made possible the board's committing Crestwood to a $9 million police government building.

Our elected officials were unaware the general fund budget was being over spent. Crestwood's audits for the 2001 and 2002 years were both closed showing a small income over expense balance, when actually the general fund was deeply in the red.

Voters approved the fire sales tax last August, which will help reduce the deficits occurring over the past several years. Crestwood is not out of money, but adjustments to budgets and reductions in spending must be made.

Your Crestwood elected officials understand what went wrong with the accounting systems and have fixed the accounting problem, unfortunately they also know we must cut spending, hard choices must be made.

They need to hear your views on going forward, you as residents should contact your aldermen/women and express your views on issues of interest. The budget needs to be fixed, so please avoid faultfinding and confine your comments to constructive ideas, so we may move forward.

Some of the issues to be looked at are, do we cut services, if so what services and how much? Do we delay some of our street repairs, or halt major street work? Do we explore ways to delay or cancel the planned new $9 million police building?

Should we resize our police services to cut costs? Do we cut or reduce the spending of tax dollars for parks or programs, which grew just because we could afford them?

Remember Crestwood is spending your money taken from your sales tax dollars, utility bill taxes and property taxes.

Although sales tax receipts have fallen, every year utility and property taxes — due to reassessment — have gone up, so still more of your money goes to Crestwood. Call your alderman/woman or go on the Internet at www.ci.crestwood.mo.us/ and make your choices known. Also work with your aldermen/women for they will be watching your money.

If you do not attend board meetings or call and let your opinion be heard, the spending of your tax money might not go in the direction you want.

John Foote

Crestwood

Editor's note: The project budget for the new police facility and renovations to City Hall totals $8.7 million, including site work and professional fees. The cost of the new police facility itself, including furniture, fixtures and equipment, totals roughly $5.85 million.

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