Higher business license tax would pay for more police
By Kevin Lavery, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – A St. Louis aldermanic committee has approved a bill that would raise the city's graduated business license tax.
The extra revenue would fund an anti-crime initiative backed by Mayor Francis Slay.
The city's graduated business license tax has held steady for 18 years. Now, Mayor Slay wants to raise that fee in order to crack down on crime. Slay proposes adding more than 40 police officers to deal with violent offenders, nuisance and property crimes as well as expand investigations into sexual abuse cases.
"Our police department has been strained and there's a relatively small number of individuals creating a disproportionate share of violent crimes in the city." Said Slay, "And this is making sure that there are more resources available."
If approved by the full Board of Aldermen, the measure would go on the August 8 ballot. In April, St. Louis voters rejected a proposal to raise the graduated business license fee.
Reaction to higher business fees was cautious from the Missouri Retailers' Association. Businesses with fewer than two employees would pay 33% more for their license, and larger companies would see a 50% increase.
"It seems like a sizeable increase," says David Overfelt, president of the Missouri Retailers. "I hope it wouldn't impact business decisions of coming into the city. Unfortunately, these are the type of things that sometimes force certain businesses to throw their hands up and leave."
If the measure goes to the August ballot and is rejected by voters, it might be put on the November ballot.