Hazelwood Taking Online Survey to Give Residents City Financial Options
Hard Copy Surveys Available at 3 City Locations
Hazelwood City Council members want to hear from their local constituents. A resident survey has been posted on the City’s website at www.hazelwoodmo.org and can be visibly seen when the site comes up on a computer screen or mobile device.
Those who have limited access to the Internet or don’t have a computer can fill out a hard copy of the resident survey at one of these locations: Hazelwood City Hall; Civic Center East; Hazelwood Community Center; or the St. Louis County Library’s Prairie Commons Branch in Hazelwood. After completing the questionnaire, residents can fold it and drop it inside a specially marked ballot box.
According to city officials, Hazelwood currently finds itself in a financial crisis. City Manager Matt Zimmerman said, that “although the city was able to maintain a budget surplus for many years in the past, things have dramatically changed.” A lot of this is the result of the Ford plant closing and the lingering effects of the economic downturn, started in 2008 and what many have called the worst since the Great Depression.
New revenue sources, such as the red light cameras, have become less reliable, Zimmerman notes. “Plus, the amount of property and commercial sales tax revenue is lower now than it was back in 2008, causing City revenues to lag behind expenses,” said Zimmerman Therefore, the city has moved from a budget surplus to a budget deficit starting in 2012 and the deficit is increasing each year.
To help compensate for the reduction in revenues, Hazelwood officials have drastically cut city expenses down to the bone in recent years, Zimmerman noted. He added that in 2013, expenses were pretty much kept flat at a rate of 1.29% – except for increases in health insurance, commodities, and utility costs. City employees have gone without a Cost of Living increase during four of the last five years.
“Unfortunately, these cuts haven’t been able to turn things around,” said the city manager. “As a result, Hazelwood City Council members are faced with making some difficult budget decisions in order to keep the City of Hazelwood from further deficit spending,”
He continued: “Additional budget cuts will need to be made unless the city finds another steady operating revenue stream,” That’s why council members are asking for residents’ feedback on which City services and/or programs they like and which ones they could do without or pay a fee to keep. The survey is brief and only takes a few minutes to complete.
“This is a chance for local citizens to voice their opinions and help guide the council in which direction to go with its budget cutting decisions,” Zimmerman said.
Hazelwood City Council members plan to host informational meetings in their wards during the next few months. Announcements of these meetings will be posted on the city’s website and disseminated to the local media. The city’s management staff will also be available to attend these neighborhood meetings and answer any questions regarding this important issue.
Residents interested in hosting their own neighborhood meetings and inviting a City Council member and/or city management staff person to speak can make these arrangements by calling (314) 513-5011.
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