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Sierra Club urges St. Louis to retain city earnings tax

(via Flickr/pasa47)
Forest Park in St. Louis is one of the places the Sierra Club says would be hurt by getting rid of the city's earnings tax in the upcoming April 5 election.

An environmental group is urging St. Louis voters to approve Proposition E in the April election.

The proposition asks voters whether the city can retain the 1 percent earnings tax, which generates about one-third of the city’s budget.

The Sierra Club is encouraging St. Louisans to vote yes.

John Hickey says the earnings tax is the main source of funding for the city’s parks.

“If we lose the earnings tax we’re going to see a degradation of our city parks, and for most city children parks are their access for open space,” Hickey said. “They’re not going to the Rocky Mountains, they’re not going to Alaska; they’re going to Forest Park. We need to make sure there’s quality parks afforded to those kids.”

But Show-Me Institute policy analyst David Stokes, who opposes the tax and proposition, says the city could find a way to replace the funding.

“I do know the parks of St. Louis get a lot of money from a variety of systems,” Stokes said. “There’s a park property tax like every county. And most importantly there’s the whole zoo, museum tax where the people of the county are already paying significant money towards particularly the zoo, museums and other amenities in St. Louis parks.”

The city’s parks receive most of their funding from the city’s general revenue fund, about $20 million.

A little more than $3 million comes from a dedicated sales tax, and about $1.5 million is generated through a regional tax for parks.

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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