Paying for Fire Service

Robertson NID and Fire Service Sales Tax

Hazelwood has been running a budget deficit since 2012. In 2020, fire service payments make up almost 40% of the Hazelwood city budget!

  • 2020 budget deficit: $2.2 million
  • 2021 budget deficit: $4.5 million

So far in 2020, Hazelwood has avoided cutting any fire or police protection service due to budget deficits. 

On August 4, two referendums will be on the Hazelwood ballot. Both are designed to help pay for fire service for Hazelwood residents.

Referendum: Robertson NID to Pay The Cost of Fire Service

The Robertson Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) is essentially a property tax for Robertson fire service area residents so they can help pay the cost of Robertson fire service. The NID would bridge the gap between what it would cost the Hazelwood Fire Department to serve the area and what the City of Hazelwood has to pay the Robertson Fire Protection District based on their voter-approved tax rates. 

  • Hazelwood Tax Rate: $0.92 /$100 assessed value 
  • Robertson Tax Rate: $2.40/$100 assessed value

The NID would produce about $2.6 million annually to balance what Robertson residents and businesses pay versus what they are charged (based on the tax rates approved by Robertson voters). 

  • Tax rate increase of $1.37 per $100K assessed value
  • Typical $100,000 home would be an additional $22 per month

Referendum: ¼ cent Sales Tax Increase For Hazelwood Fire Service

Hazelwood voters approved a ¼ cent sales tax for fire service in 2014. This additional ¼ cent would generate about $780,000 per year to support the Hazelwood Fire Department. In 2019, the Missouri General Assembly voted that cities could increase their fire service sales taxes to a ½ cent, which allows for this option. 

Cost of Fire Service in Hazelwood   

Hazelwood funds fire service through its centralized General Fund. Though Hazelwood residents and business owners contribute to the General Fund evenly through their regular tax rate, the cost of fire service is different between fire service areas. In 2017, Hazelwood spent $368.01 per person on fire service in the Hazelwood fire service area and $734.91 per person in the Robertson fire service area. Because all of these costs are currently covered by the City through the General Fund, tax revenue that is contributed by residents outside the Robertson fire service area is used to pay for more expensive fire service in the Robertson fire service area. 

Per Capita Costs of Fire Service (2017):

  • Hazelwood Fire Department: $320.81 per person 
  • Florissant Valley Fire Protection District: $192.56 per person 
  • Robertson Fire Protection District: $734.91 per person  

Other Ways We Save Money  

Hazelwood has been cutting jobs and services to try to balance the budget. Here’s what has been done in 2020: 

  • Cut 10 administrative jobs and 15% of all administrative costs across the board 
  • Eliminated 3 FT and 8 PT positions in 2021 budget 
  • Raises stopped and hiring freeze implemented 
  • Closed Civic Center East 
  • Cut leaf collection in the fall and limb collection in the spring 
  • Stopped city programs like fireworks, park pavilion rentals, Easter Egg hunt 
  • Reduced street maintenance and snow plowing 

The referendums for the NID and ¼ cent sales tax increase were voted on by the Hazelwood City Council in June 2020 to give residnents a change to address these options. 

But what about Tax Abatements?

The City has received many excellent questions about tax abatements, so we want to address them: 

  • The City of Hazelwood does not pay any money to developers as part of tax abatements. Tax abatements, such as TIFs (tax increment financing) and TDDs (transportation development district), are used to offset some of the non-normal costs of developments, like roads, bridges, sewer lines and utilities. The St. Louis Outlet Mall would not have been built without the large entrances off MO-370 and bridges over the highway. These were paid for with TDD revenues that came from sales on the mall property. City taxpayers did not pay for those improvements.
  • Without those tax abatements, a project would not be built and NO revenue would have come in to the City. The City and other taxing districts forego revenue in the near future to gain more revenue in later years. New development also brings in other revenues to the City, such as sales taxes, utility taxes, and business license fees.

The City did offer full tax abatement in the late 2000’s to try to spur new development after the Ford plant closed. The effort worked.

  • Aviator Business Park - where the Ford plant used to be, now has 5 buildings and with 3 more buildings being planned.
  • Hazelwood Logistics Center -  has 8 buildings, all fully leased.
  • Hazelwood TradePort - currently has 2 buildings built with 2 more are planned in the next 12 months. 9 buildings will be added to the City’s industrial base when the project is completed.
  • Park 370 – 3 new buildings planned.
  • McDonnell and Byassee – the new industrial building is almost completed
  • The old SuperValu building on Hazelwood Ave is being repurposed into a business that makes and repairs pallets.
  • Village Square -  undergoing a full renovation
  • Elm Grove TIF - where the K-Mart used to be, was fully renovated and has a new hotel, international food market, and storage areas.

As the City’s economic development efforts have started to succeed, the City has reduced its tax abatements.

  • Hazelwood Logistics Center has an 18-year tax abatement, eight of which are only 50%.
  • Hazelwood TradePort and the building at McDonnell and Byassee only have a partial tax abatement.  

Lastly, fire districts are exempt from tax abatement for any projects that start after 2015. The City requires any developer to repay the City for any taxes the City pays to the Robertson or Florissant Valley Fire Districts. The City continues to consider each economic development project to determine the appropriate incentive, if any, as good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.

Questions/Comments 

Have additional questions? Email fireservice@hazelwoodmo.org

View the Slide Deck from the July 29 Informational Meeting about NID and 1/4 Cent Fire Services Sales Tax

Informational Meeting Cover Picture

View the recording of the Informational Meeting: