I want to take a moment to update you on what is happening in our community. You have heard many things in the past few months and years about City services and finances. This letter is intended to keep you informed of what is happening in the community.
First, the good news. Due to federal stimulus money from the CARES Act and ARPA, the City has been able to maintain its financial footing. The City’s economic development efforts have also begun to pay off. You have undoubtedly seen the many new warehouses in Aviator (the old Ford plant), Hazelwood Logistics Center, and Hazelwood TradePort. There are over 1,000 new jobs in Hazelwood. The City, through program and budget reductions, has been able to maintain reasonable reserves and fund balances. Dedicated City personnel continue to work with fewer employees while maintaining services to the best extent possible. However, this will not last indefinitely.
The City Council, due to the one-time nature of the revenues, has decided the City cannot restore all services at this time. Popular programs like leaf collection in the fall, limb collection in the spring, opening Civic Center East on Dunn Rd., and 4th of July fireworks, cannot be restored until the City has established a more secure financial position. The City terminated the contract with Robertson Fire Protection District due to the excessive cost and mismanagement of taxpayer money by the Board of Directors. Nevertheless, the City continues to pay Robertson the amount they levied in 2021, over $4.5 million per year. If the City can obtain a more reasonable cost, closer to what Hazelwood pays for fire service in the area served by the Hazelwood Fire Department, these programs can be brought back.
The City wants to provide as many programs and services as possible as cost-effectively as it can. But the truth is, without voter or judicial relief, a Chapter 9 bankruptcy of Missouri’s 26th largest City and the 7th largest City in St. Louis County may be inevitable while City services to the twenty-five thousand of us who live in Hazelwood hang in the balance. If bankruptcy occurs, core City services such as police, fire, street maintenance and snow plowing, will continue, but in a much reduced capacity.
I appreciate your patience and understanding while these issues are worked out. Please do not hesitate to contact your Council member, City staff, or myself if you have any questions or would like more information. The City will continue to keep its residents informed as events progress. Thank you and please stay informed.
Mayor, City of Hazelwood