FINANCIAL HEALTH OF CLAYTON
Q: How is Clayton’s financial health?
As an alderman, I have advocated for our conservative fiscal strategy, acted to fuel vitality in our business districts, and helped to create our valuable private partner, the Clayton Century Foundation. I wanted to share with you a few facts about how things are going:
Our city is financially healthy: Our hefty “rainy day fund” has helped us weather the recession and allowed for a thoughtful reduction plan that achieves the right balance between spending levels and quality of life. We are currently implementing a 3 year plan to balance the budget, which will leave us with a 50% reserve level–well above the state required level of 23%.
Q: What are my ideas for an even better financial future? (click here)
Our businesses are growing: Sales tax revenue is up including restaurants, over the past 3 years We have added 2200 new jobs over the past 6 years, and our commercial real estate market “has outperformed the other submarkets in St. Louis by a wide margin”. Click here to read article. While no one likes to see vacancies in Clayton, you should know that some properties are purposefully being vacated in preparation for redevelopment.
Q: How am I supporting local business? (click here)
Our private partner is thriving: The Clayton Century Foundation is growing and investing in Clayton—nearly $2 million to date—with much more to come!
Q: How is the Clayton Century Foundation helping our city? (click here)
Our home values are strong: Clayton’s home values have remained comparatively stable throughout the economic downturn and real estate sales are on the upswing. Clayton on the Park recently re-opened as residential rental units, and we’re looking forward to seeing additional residential rental projects in our downtown soon.
Clayton’s centennial is a testament to the city’s ability to survive, adapt, and grow.
Q: What can the city do to fill empty spaces?
Filling empty retail space is a top priority in Clayton. Not only are we not generating sales tax when properties are vacant, but we are not providing the “walk” that make city blocks interesting.
Long-term, our city needs to encourage higher density residential living in our downtown area, which will create a greater natural demand, resulting in the need for more shops to open because of increased foot traffic 24-7 that will frequent those stores and services.
Right now, we can work to solidify partnerships to promote Clayton as the destination:
- Performing Arts: We can partner with small theater groups, music producers and property owners to bring performing arts to Clayton.
- Meeting Destination: We can bring together hotel sales professionals, retailers, restaurant owners and meeting planners to create special offerings that attract groups to meet in Clayton.
- Parking: We can more effectively communicate where public parking is with wayfinding signage. I proposed that the city offer a smart phone app to show where public parking is located. We can also work with garage owners to promote the fact that parking in Clayton is free after 5 pm and all weekend, every weekend.
Q: What am I doing to address empty store fronts?
Several months ago I initiated a Buy Local movement in Clayton. This is a NOW activity that impacts the current retailers and immediately bolsters our city’s sales tax revenue.
YOU can make a real and significant difference by BUYING LOCAL! When you shop at one of our many retail establishments, your purchase directly affects the ability of that business owner to stay open in Clayton and contributes to the sales tax pool for the city. You can actually do a lot to help address empty store fronts by ensuring that we retain current businesses.
Q: Given the economic downturn, what is the value of partnerships?
Clayton is fortunate to have outstanding institutions, businesses and residents. We haven’t always relied on one another to achieve specific results. Now is the time, because innovative partnerships can generate new initiatives that maximize community resources.
Q: What am I doing to further partnerships?
I have initiated a number of efforts:
- An analysis of cost and services sharing between the City and the Clayton School District
- Helped to launch the Clayton Century Foundation, a public-private partnership, generating nearly $2 million in private investment for community enhancements.
- Served as the Treasurer of the CRSWC (the Center of Clayton), touted as a national model for partnership that saves operating expenses for both the city and school district.
Q: What more can be done?
I would view partnerships as a key strategy and will:
- Try to bring together thought leaders, business leaders and representatives from our outstanding educational institutions, to increase our community’s vitality
- Reach out to partners that can be catalysts for implementing our Downtown Master Plan
Q: Is being ‘Green’ still a priority in Clayton?
Yes! Our city has become known as a leader in the region for environmental sustainability initiatives. With the largest non-utility solar panel installation in Missouri, biking and walking paths, a smoking ban in public places, and a commitment to LEED certified building, we are positioned to continue being Green.
Q: Is there more to sustainability than environmental practices?
Yes. There are 3 prongs to sustainability; environmental, financial and social. A green and sustainable city is a community of residents, neighbors, and businesses who strive together to balance ecological, economic and social needs to ensure a clean, healthy and safe environment for all members of society and for generations to come. Sometimes referred to as a ‘Triple Bottom Line’, the reality is that you can’t be successful in one area without achieving success in the other two.
Q: What am I doing to address the Triple Bottom Line?
As an alderman for the past seven years, I am keenly aware of the challenges that impact our financial, environmental and social sustainability.
- I have supported legislation that supports environmental quality, from the no-smoking ordinance to solar panels and a reduced carbon footprint. I also support active, walkable communities.
- Regarding social sustainability, I continue to reach out to our award-winning school district, while passing progressive legislation that furthers quality for all gender relationships.
- I helped develop and I support our current budget plan, which ensures our financial stability.
- I have actively supported our businesses by starting a Buy Local movement.
THE BUYING LOCAL MOVEMENT
Q: What is the buying local movement?
With a growing awareness about the value of supporting the local economy, we aim to spend our dollars in Clayton and trigger a ripple effect:
- keep our unique, one-of-a-kind businesses thriving
- keep our local employees working and eating & shopping themselves in our city
- showcase our local products to other potential shoppers
- generate additional tax dollars for our city
- help grow funds for basic city services, from street paving to public safety
- support sustainability by shopping close to home & not using plastic shopping bags
Gathering friends and neighbors, we aim to create a groundswell of support for local retailers and restaurateurs in the community where we live and work.
Stay tuned to Michelle’s website for upcoming opportunities to go out with the Clayton Shoppers!