I am happy to respond to Mr. Kozuszek’s comments and questions (Oct. 10), as they are good questions that deserve some explanation.
First of all, I believe our city is doing well overall and is not in danger of not “staying afloat.” We do, however, see a trend that is unrelated to the financial effects of COVID-19 … our city, along with many other cities, is too reliant on sales tax revenues. Our revenues over the last handful of years have significantly declined. The reasons include increased online purchasing, a decline in landline gross receipts tax, and a decline in revenue from once retail-rich Chesterfield Mall, to name a few.
Given the current financial crisis, one could wonder how Chesterfield could justify completing the expensive purchase of property for parkland across from our amphitheater. The answer has several components, including fairly healthy reserves and the ability to refinance long-term debt and borrow a little more at a lower interest rate that saves us money and allows us to satisfy the debt two years sooner than before. That parcel, which is zoned commercial, or high density multi-family residential could have been developed in a manner, which we believe would have been incompatible with the existing amphitheater, and Veteran’s Honor Park directly across the street.
The Logan Park addition is a 30-year lease that costs us $1. We anticipate that in large part, the improvements will be paid for by grants.
As far as belt tightening, we routinely look at ways to cut costs while continuing to provide high caliber services to our residents and businesses. During the pandemic, many employees were furloughed and merit increases were eliminated. A hiring freeze was put into effect and several capital projects and purchases have been delayed. Perhaps the biggest example of belt tightening is the millions of dollars earmarked for future debt payments, which reduces future annual obligations. I am very proud of the very conservative financial management patterns and practices that our city follows, especially in recent years.
If anyone wants additional information, I am happy to discuss this matter, or feel free to contact one of your council members directly.
Mayor Bob Nation