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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis County Council gives initial approval to public safety sales tax hike

St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar joined Stenger on Wednesday in announcing the minimum standards proposal.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A measure to boost sales taxes to help law enforcement agencies may be going to St. Louis County voters.

The St. Louis County Council gave initial approval today for the ballot item. The one-half of 1 percent sales tax hike would partly go to the St. Louis County Police Department. The rest would go to St. Louis County municipalities.

Police chief Jon Belmar says funding raised by the tax would be distributed based on population and would go toward increasing hiring, salaries and access to technology like body cameras.

He is optimistic about voter response to the bill.

“We’ve looked at it from many different angles and I think it’s a reasonable request to our taxpayers," said Belmar. "And I think at the end of the day it’s going to be worth it for us to ensure public safety.”

Belmar also says the measure is not a response to what he calls an uptick of violence against police including recent officer-involved shootings.

“When you take a look at the backdrop of some of the tragedy that not only we’ve experienced here in St. Louis County but across the nation, I think that’s an interesting backdrop but I would also tell you that many of these needs existed prior to some of these things happening,” said Belmar.

If the council passes the measure, St. Louis County voters will decide on the tax’s fate in April.

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