Offers update on mayor's accomplishments
September 14, 2005 - To the editor:
My response to a letter from Mr. Chris Pickel comes from a different perspective.
I am curious as to why he has just now begun to recognize Crestwood's financial problems and the so-called renegade groups distracting the Board of Aldermen.
I wonder where he has been over the last few years when Crestwood's leadership accumulated long-term debt — over $24 million — then started to operate on a $2 million line of credit. More astonishing is the past mayor's drive to borrow $6 million — general obligation bonds — just to balance the books. It seems to me that if residents had not become renegades and voted down the GO bonds, our debt would now be well over $32 million.
Clearly Mr. Pickel was not one of the 2,000 residents who signed petitions to overturn an ordinance connected to the ex-orbitant retrofitting of the police building and redesign of City Hall, which process and its planning wasted well over $1.6 million in cost overruns and architect fees and did not have citizen support nor financial integrity to accomplish.
Apparently Mr. Pickel assumed there was ballot language which clearly stipulated support of this facility and which was approved by residents. Not only was this language not specific, it did not disclose the financial depression afflicting the city.
Mr. Pickel must not have paid attention to our new mayor's April 2005 campaign. Roy Robinson defeated Tom Fagan and promised to strive toward debt reduction by halting the ill-advised police facility. He further promised to strive for the continuation of our police, fire and EMS services despite the negativity of Board of Aldermen members who firmly stressed that if the GO bonds failed, our city protection services would be cut. Mayor Robinson also stated he did not believe one staff person should hold two key positions.
Well, you have stated you wanted to hear Mayor Robinson's plan. Let's see if I can help you.
The police building was stopped and the certificates of participation are on the way to defeasement, cutting $12 million in long-term debt, while saving annual loan payments of over $733,000 a year. Mayor Robinson has kept his promise to preserve and retain the fire, police and EMS services and he has advanced ideas for new sources of funds to improve budgeting.
The job of police chief and city administrator has been separated with plans to hire a new city administrator.
So, it would appear there have been several significant "promises made, promises kept" and Mayor Robinson has competently and prudently begun to make these changes needed to handle problems inherited from the previous borrow, tax and spend administration.
Good plan. Sure hope this update helps.
Thomas C. Ford
Editor's note: Mr. Ford is listed as a member of Crestwood Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility in a handout distributed at the July 12 Crestwood Board of Aldermen meeting by the citizens' group. In addition, Mr. Ford recently was appointed to Crestwood's Planning and Zoning Commission by Mayor Roy Robinson.