Firefighter Steve Toelke read the following statement at the Crestwood Board of Aldermen's regular meeting on Jan. 8. He is the shop steward for International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 2665:
I come before the board this evening to request the Board place a property tax increase before Crestwood's citizens for consideration.
With this in mind I would like to take a moment and touch on some of the key aspects of the importance for this city to place on a said ballot increase. Over the past several years the solutions of cutting positions whether it be through attrition or just elimination, has been utilized as a tool to save this city money.
Increasing health care premiums have been placed on the employees’ shoulders to further lessen the impact of the city’s expenditures, while further putting more burdens on its employees who are already struggling with no pay increases for several years. We, as employees, have sat back quietly and tightened our own belts in belief that the Board of Aldermen would eventually take care of its employees. In spite of that, we have come to work with professional and willing attitude, committed to serving you and our citizens with above and beyond service.
Your Fire Fighters are a comparatively compensated much lower than almost every peer in the County. Likewise, your residents are taxed much lower than many other communities in the region. The City of Crestwood has been adamant that no property tax increases will be considered. Rather, the budget has been balanced by further cutting of payroll through via us paying more for benefits, eliminating positions, and freezing salaries. The St. Louis Zoo collects more tax revenue from Crestwood citizens than the city itself does, and from our perspective this is unacceptable.
As a veteran employee of the department, I have seen the good employees come and go. This turnover and Crestwood’s lack of competitiveness in the market has to stop. I speak on behalf of the shop local 2665 and for all other employees of this fine city to ask that a minimum of a 25-cent tax increase be placed on the ballot to help Crestwood. A tax increase is the only logical solution to our future health as a City. I pled to you our support for this initiative, and assure you we will work tirelessly and bring all resources to the table to ensure its success.
Kurt Becker, District Vice President
IAFF Local 2665
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