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Aldermen: Passage of Prop. A could be "devastating" to St. Louis city services

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By Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

ST. LOUIS – Members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen said that passage of Proposition A could mean devastating cuts to basic city services.

Testifying before the Aldermanic Ways and Means Committee, the heads of various city departments said that the elimination of the 1 percent city earnings tax would effectively cut one third of the city's general revenue.

Lt. Col. Tim Reagan of the Metropolitan Police Department said that this would have a devastating impact on public safety.

"You're probably talking in the range of 700-800 officers that you would have to lay off." Reagan said, "And to put that in perspective, we have 966 officers in all three patrol divisions."

St. Louis officials said that the city is already bracing for future budget reductions.

They say eliminating the earnings tax would likely mean much higher sales and property taxes.

Bankrolled by billionaire Libertarian Rex Sinquefield, Prop A would put the one-percent city earnings tax up for a public vote every five years.

St. Louis City Budget Director Paul Payne said that the tax funds the backbone of city services.

"That's 30 percent of general revenue budget, which provides for the majority of our day-to-day city services," Payne said, "Everything from the Police Department, Fire Department, Parks, Streets just the bulk of the city services that most citizens expect."

Payne also said that just having the earnings tax up for referendum every five years could affect the city's credit rating.

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