It’s been a trying couple of years, particularly for long-time Ferguson residents; it was hard to read the lies written about Ferguson, one of the most diverse, progressive cities in St. Louis. But the worst of the storm has passed. The cleanup will take a while, but we will get there – the Ferguson we know and love will continue.
We will get the finances figured out. Facing over a million dollar budget deficit is daunting, and will require hard choices. However we have to keep it in perspective – it’s about 8% of our budget. A lot of money, but nothing we can’t figure out. Probably every person in Ferguson has gone through a time where they had a drop in income, or a spike in expenses and the vast majority of us managed to figure it out. We might have had to defer the landscaping project in the back yard or shorten the vacation, but we made it through. Ferguson will make it through as well. Citizens might have to chip in and help a little more and it might mean the parks aren’t quite as well maintained for a year or two, but we will get it figured out.
Improving public safety will close much of the budget gap. It’s touchy to talk about traffic fines revenue, but this is a big part of the answer. Before 2011, when the City made a conscious decision to increase traffic fines, the City averaged about $1.3 million in annual traffic fines revenue, about average (all cities have traffic fines as part of their budget). From 2011 to 2014 traffic fines increased to $2.6 million. After the protests Ferguson pulled back from enforcing the traffic laws and it has had a significant impact on public safety, both anecdotally and statistically. Residents now regularly complain about people speeding dangerously through their neighborhoods and there are more traffic accidents. Traffic fine revenue is now about $400,000 a year. Ferguson is getting back to enforcing traffic laws, and not only will this make us a much safer community, it will also close much of the current budget gap. Breaking the law is breaking the law.
Property Values will also come back, and with it higher property taxes for the City. North County property values are slowly starting to come back. As importantly, nothing that happened in the last two years has changed what is one of Ferguson’s greatest strengths – it’s physical beauty and great housing stock. It’s not homerism to say that Ferguson, with its rolling hills and hundred year old historic homes, is one of the most beautiful communities in St. Louis. Ferguson home prices have stabilized and are slowly starting to increase.
The Truth about Ferguson will eventually come out. Mark Twain had a quote: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”. If ever there was an example of this saying it was the press’ treatment of Ferguson. But the truth does always eventually win out, and it will do so here in Ferguson as well. Please be assured that we will keep on fighting this fight, and over time will clear Ferguson’s name.
Ferguson will be okay. Everybody take a deep breath. The storm is over, the cleanup has begun. The wonderful, kind people that make Ferguson such a special community are still here. Ferguson will survive, and yes thrive.
Help Ferguson Get the Truth Out
Beginning with Eric Holder announcing the Department of Justice’s “searing” report, the DOJ has selectively collected and presented information to paint Ferguson as racist and abusive. Ferguson Truth was formed to push for transparency and truth from the Department of Justice, to counteract this distorted narrative that the DOJ created.