Property Tax Hike Unlikely To Face City Voters In Next Few Months
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen declined to pass a bill Friday that would have put a property tax increase before the voters. As a result, it is unlikely the proposal will make it to the voters on the April ballot.
The $200 million bond proposal would pay for building and road repairs, as well as vehicle and equipment upgrades for fire and police departments.
“You can’t argue with the fact that the trash trucks are old -- they’re wearing out," Alderman Scott Ogilvie, I-24th Ward, said. "You can’t argue with the fact that the fire trucks are old -- they’re wearing out. You can’t argue with the fact the roofs on the firehouses are 30-40 years old. We have to pass this money.”
Some aldermen lamented that the bill has gone through different incarnations and that the board needed time to catch up.
"We haven’t really been abreast of the breakdown of the $200 million," Alderman Frank Williamson, D-26th Ward, said. "I’m in support of getting it out so the voters can pass it, but I think it’s only fair that this body sit down and talk about it so we know exactly [where] this money is going.”
Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, said the proposal shouldn't go to the voters in April, when turnout is typically low.
Mayor Francis Slay's office points out that the bill sat without debate for the past several months.
"There was plenty of time to get a bill through for voters," Maggie Crane, a spokesperson for Slay, said. "The city successfully weathered two recessions by deferring capital and infrastructure needs while avoiding layoffs. But we now have critical needs that must be met."
Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed said the reason the bill didn't pass could be because of the upcoming elections.
"At this time of year, when so many people are up for re-election, the last thing they want to do is go to their constituency and say 'Yes, I voted to bring this to you that could be a tax increase,'" Reed said. "But ultimately it will [be before the voters]. We could also wait and have a special election sometime throughout the year also."
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