Hazlewood Mayor Matt Robinson issued a statement Friday saying that the city of 25,000 people in St. Louis County is facing severe financial hardship and bankruptcy “could be inevitable.”
The economic condition of the city has been in limbo for years. According to Robinson’s statement, this worst-case scenario was stalled by federal stimulus funds coming to Hazlewood in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But because of the “one-time nature” of that money, many municipal services are now being cut, with leaf collection, organ collection and the city’s Fourth of July fireworks displays among them.
The civic center of the city will also remain closed.
Before Robinson’s statement explicitly addressed the city’s economic woes, he first spoke of the city’s economic growth as “starting to pay off.”
“You have undoubtedly seen many new warehouses at Aviator (the old Ford plant), Hazlewood Logistics Center and Hazlewood Tradeport,” he writes.
However, significant tax breaks have been a major selling point used to attract entities to these events.
For example, the Aviator Business Park was offered a 25-year tax exemption.
Hazlewood Logistics Center promised a “100 percent real estate tax reduction for 10 years and a 50 percent rebate for 8 years thereafter.”
Tradeport was marketed partly at an 18-year discount given to its lessors.
In 2017, post dispatch Hazlewood’s use of tax exemptions and other incentives as “offensive”.
The mayor’s statement said should the city be declared bankrupt, essential services such as police and fire would remain “at a very low capacity”.
“Dedicated city workers continue to work with fewer employees, while maintaining services to the best extent,” Robinson wrote. “However, this will not last indefinitely.”