St. Louis officials are considering a $200 million bond issue, paid for by a property tax increase. The bond would go toward various building and road repairs, as well as vehicle and equipment upgrades for the fire and police departments.
The proposal would have to be approved by the voters, and the Board of Aldermen has decided to hold town hall meetings for taxpayers to voice their opinion on where the money should be spent.
“The first thought I had was how can we use some of these public dollars to address some of the public safety issues we have within our city," Board President Lewis Reed, who is leading the effort, said.
Thursday night's town hall was at the O'Fallon Recreational Center, where many of the attendees (and fellow aldermen) echoed Reed's sentiment.
Some residents offered up the idea of the money going toward more police officers, and others suggested having smaller and more local police districts.
"We have some examples of what other cities have done, and I think we need to investigate all of that,” Reed said.
The city has sketched out roughly $150 million worth of needs already, but has emphasized that nothing is set in stone. So far, the proposal allocates:
- $26 million for Fire Department vehicles and equipment, and $12 million for building upkeep
- $11 million for Police Department equipment and building upkeep
- $15 million for building demolition
- $31 million for building and equipment upgrades for Corrections
- $18 million for roads and bridges
- $38 million for various city building upkeep and vehicles
The town halls are a way for those who would be paying the extra in property tax (roughly $30 for every $100,000 assessed in value) to give their opinion on where the money should go.
So far, each of the two town halls has more than 50 attendees. The first was held Tuesday at the Missouri History Museum. Reed said he's heard some good ideas.
"Transportation is a huge issue, and we heard in our first forum that people wanted to see the north-south distributor [for the MetroLink] built," Reed said. "And we know that along transportation corridors, commerce happens.”
Ultimately, the proposal would have to be approved by the voters. At this time, it's still up in the air on which ballot it would appear on.
The next, and final, town hall takes place at 12:30 p.m., Sat., April 19 at the Carondelet Park Recreation Center.
Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel