Public safety, housing among uses for money that would have gone for St. Louis soccer stadium | St. Louis Public Radio

Public safety, housing among uses for money that would have gone for St. Louis soccer stadium

Apr 8, 2017

The demise of a publicly funded soccer stadium could mean the St. Louis Police Department sees more taxpayer money.

 

When voters approved a half-cent sales tax Tuesday for things like light rail expansion and neighborhood development programs, it automatically raised the use tax that businesses pay on out-of-state purchases.

 

Because that roughly $4 million won’t go to a Major League Soccer stadium, the money could go toward things like knocking down derelict buildings, providing grants for low-cost housing and bolstering the St. Louis Police Department.

 

While emphasizing that she wouldn’t make the decision where to the spend the use tax funds by herself, Mayor-elect Lyda Krewson said Thursday she would like to see funding for public safety efforts, considering hiring more police officers was a major campaign plank.

 

“I won’t make this decision by myself. Of course, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Board of Aldermen will have input on that,” Krewson said in a telephone interview with St. Louis Public Radio. (The Board of Estimate and Apportionment consists of the mayor, Board of Aldermen president and comptroller. The three officials end up making many of the city’s major financial decisions.)

 

Krewson said she hasn’t talked with police officials about how the use tax funds should be spent. Some proceeds from the half-cent sales tax can go toward upgrading equipment and technology, as well as building up the city’s Real Time Crime Center.

 

“Public safety, I think I called it neighborhood safety, is job one for the mayor,” she said. “So we would be looking to use some of those funds toward neighborhood safety.”

 

Opponents of the stadium ballot measure had contended the use tax funds should be spent on vital city services, and that steering that money to a sports facility was a skewed priority.

 

John Collins-Muhammad, the alderman-elect for the 21st Ward, in north St. Louis, agrees with that view. When asked where he would like to see the new funds spent, Collins-Muhammad replied: “I hope it goes to housing.”

 

“When you look at my ward especially, I have over 1,000 vacant and [Land Reutilization Authority] properties,” he said. “These properties are dilapidated, falling part, and just completely terrible and horrendous to look at. And that’s exactly what people are living next to. This is what homeowners and taxpayers are paying for.”

 

Krewson, along with the recently elected members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, will be sworn into office April 18.

 

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum