Hazelwood Is Broke, Says Mayor

click to enlarge The Hazelwood Civic Center East, which Mayor Matt Robinson said in a statement  would not be reopened due to the city's financial woes. - Google Maps
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The Hazelwood Civic Center East, which Mayor Matt Robinson said in a statement would not be reopened due to the city's financial woes.

Hazelwood Mayor Matt Robinson issued a statement on Friday saying that the city of 25,000 people in St. Louis County is facing severe financial hardship and bankruptcy "may be inevitable."

The city's financial situation has been in limbo for years. According to Robinson's statement, this worst-case scenario was stalled by federal stimulus money that came to Hazelwood in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But because of the "one-time nature" of that money, many municipal services are now going to be cut, leaf collection, limb collection and the city's Fourth of July fireworks display among them.

The city's civic center will also remain closed.

Before Robinson's statement candidly addressed the city's financial dire straights, he first touted the city's economic development that "has begun to pay off."

"You have undoubtedly seen the many new warehouses in Aviator (the old Ford plant), Hazelwood Logistics Center, and Hazelwood TradePort," he writes.

However, significant tax breaks seem to have been a key selling point used to attract entities to these developments.

The Aviator Business Park, for instance, was offered a 25 year tax abatement.

The Hazelwood Logistics Center promised a "100 percent real estate tax abatement for10 years followed by 50 percent abatement for 8 years."

The Tradeport was marketed in part on the 18-year abatement offered to its leasees.

In 2017, the Post-Dispatch called Hazelwood's use of tax abatements and other incentives "aggressive."

The mayor's statement added that should the city declare bankruptcy, essential services like police and fire will remain "in a much reduced capacity."

"Dedicated City personnel continue to work with fewer employees while maintaining services to the best extent possible," Robinson wrote. "However, this will not last indefinitely."

About The Author

Ryan Krull

Ryan Krull is a staff writer for the Riverfront Times. Find him on Twitter @ryanwkrull
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