St. Louis voters officially will get a say on whether to spend public money on a professional soccer stadium and expanding MetroLink.
Because aldermen missed a January deadline to put the measures on the April ballot, they needed an assist from St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Mullen on Thursday. Mullen issued a ruling that effectively placed the two items on the April ballot.
At issue are two separate, but related initiatives. One would allow city money to go toward a proposed soccer stadium. The other would primarily raise the city’s sales tax to help fund light rail expansion, as well as neighborhood and workforce development programs. Voters must approve the sales tax increase in order for the soccer stadium funding to be possible.
St. Louis Republican elections director Gary Stoff says the city election board had no objections to the judge’s decision – especially because adding the measures onto the ballot wouldn’t cost anything.
“Oftentimes, we’re beginning to print ballots now in anticipation of an election,” Stoff said. “But in the city, the general follows the primary within four weeks. So you can’t really print the general ballot until you know who wins the primary.”
The sales tax increase is a major priority for departing St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. And the soccer stadium initiative could be critical for St. Louis’ hopes of landing a Major League Soccer franchise.
Aldermen are expected to spend Friday debating a financing plan laying out the city’s financial commitment to the proposed soccer stadium.
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