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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis County voters OK sales tax increase for policing

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar listens to U.S. Attorney General  Sessions' remarks. (03/31/17)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar listens to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' remarks last week.

St. Louis County will get an estimated $80 million a year for policing and public safety efforts after voters approved Proposition P on Tuesday.

The half-cent sales tax increase will benefit all of the county’s municipalities to the tune of $34 million, though that money will be doled out by population. Officials says the remaining $46 million will be used to hire more county police officers, give each county officer a body camera and dashboard camera and increase the salaries of current officers.


The sales tax increase passed overwhelmingly, with about 63 percent of the vote.

Opponents of the measure were concerned that the money wouldn't be equally distributed to the municipalities that need it the most. Republican leaders also were concerned that the money was going to replace, not boost, what’s already being spent on policing.

But backers of the tax increase, including St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, a Democrat, and Police Chief Jon Belmar said it was necessary.

Belmar said Tuesday night that he was humbled by the proposition's passage. 

"I certainly ... cannot say how much I appreciate the leadership from the county executive, the county police officer's association, and, certainly, the biggest deal out there is the public. Again, I am forever indebted," he said.

Belmar noted the first thing his department will do is begin the hiring process for more than 100 new officers.

"I really think that has to be the priority because there should be an expectation from the public that when we say we’re going to add 110 police officers, that doesn’t mean three years from now."

The sales tax increase will start going toward policing efforts later this year.

Follow Erica on Twitter: @ehunzinger

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