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Readers Leaning Toward Approval of 3/16th of a Cent Arch/Parks Sales Tax

March 27, 2013 Parks, Politics/Policy, Taxes 10 Comments
Concept drawing at Arch grounds
Concept drawing at Arch grounds

Next Tuesday voters in St. Louis City and St. Louis County will be asked to approve a 3/16th of a cent sales tax increase that will expire in 20 years. The poll results here are not scientific, only reflecting the views of a small segment of the electorate. Early on the “no” votes outnumbered the “yes” votes 2-1, but slowly throughout the week the yes votes gained momentum but not enough to clear 50%.

Q: Do you support Prop P on the April 2nd ballot? Prop P=3/16th of a cent sales tax for Arch/parks

  1. Yes 75 [46.3%]
  2. No 59 [36.42%]
  3. Undecided 14 [8.64%]
  4. Not a voter in STL City/County 6 [3.7%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 4 [2.47%]
  6. Other: 4 [2.47%]

The four (4) other answers were:

  1. Probably, but not enthused about itAdd as a poll answer
  2. No, would much rather see the 3/16 cent sales tax go to lowering Lambert”s debt
  3. It’s strange that St. Louis must put so much money into a park it doesn’t own…
  4. Yes, but would greatly prefer revenue to be raised by property taxes .

The Post-Dispatch favors the tax increase:

You add 4.225 percent state tax rate to local rates to get the combined sales tax. The base city sales tax is 4.266 percent, slightly higher in some special taxing areas. The base combined state and local sales in St. Louis city is 8.491 percent, 25th highest among those 107 metro areas. If Prop P passes, the base rate will rise to about 8.51 cents. That’s barely noticeable unless you buy a $20,000 car, when it will cost you another $37.50 in sales taxes. (Editorial: Yes on Prop P. Arch-parks-trails tax fixes old problems, creates new opportunities)

I’m still undecided, but leaning toward “yes.”

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. guest says:

    This was one of the first times that I walked into the polling booth and wasn’t sure what to do. I started out thinking I’d vote “no”, but hesitated. Then I thought about all that outside money coming in to the city to spruce up the Arch, and if that’s really going to happen, I wouldn’t want my vote being the one deciding against it. So I voted “yes”. The thing I’m really still wondering about though is all that private money. Proponents say about $150 mm of private money will be going into the pot? Where? When? Whose? That’s the biggest question mark to me. If there’s that much charity to go around in STL, I can think of a lot of places that need it that aren’t getting it. Nonetheless, I did vote, “yes”.

    • backprop says:

      Those are all good questions, but personally I always err on the side of caution (aka “NO”) when it comes to a perpetual, never-ending tax.

  2. JZ71 says:

    Add in another full percent if the proposed state sales tax increase for highways passes (http://www.kansascity.com/2013/03/13/4118674/mo-senate-oks-sales-tax-bump-for.html . . .) and the combined rate for the city would jump to 9.491%, putting us near the top. Throw in extra taxes for things like dining in restaurants or being in the Loop Trolley special district and it gets close to (or over) 11%! I guess people won’t be happy until it gets to 20%?! After all, it’s only a little bit more and it’s going to a good cause . . . .

    • guest says:

      So, JZ, that sounds like a “no” vote?

      • JZ71 says:

        Maybe. Governing is complex. Part of governing is (supposed to be) making (many times, tough) choices on an annual basis on how to spend finite tax revenues, aka the budget. The two problems I have with any dedicated sales tax is that its funding is no longer subject to regular or annual review and, in many cases, funding that was originally in the overall budget is usually reduced, so there is little or no net gain to whatever is being funded.

        Bigger picture, people are sensitive to tax rates when there start to be significant differences. People who live in Illinois buy gas and cigarettes in Missouri because our taxes on those products are much lower. St. Louis is part of a region with a mobile population. It’s one thing when the tax rate differs by 1%-2% – is it really worth the drive? – but if the city starts to be 3%-4% higher (or more) than Arnold or Wentzville, people will start to vote with their feet.

    • Moe says:

      A good point. I think a major problem of the past is that many of these special taxing districts do not have an expiration date. Luckily, I see that changing slowly (too slowly). Tax districts are a great tool but they shouldn’t go on forever. Same with non-profit statuses, and with TIFFs. Ex: I worked at a cafe just inside the boundary of one AND our biggest competitor was a non-pprofit. So right off the bat, we were already charging 10% more for the same item just being 1000 feet away. We, as a whole, find ways to spend the money, then get too use to it and can’t stop or worse, we give away tax revenue and shoot our selves in the foot because we have to raise our taxes on other things.

      But for the record, I do support this tax. Not only for the Arch grounds, but also for the many parks that we have. St. Louis, under the guidance of the Greenways is quickly becoming a leader for parks and their connectiveness. Even though parks do not put food on our table directly, they add to the quality of life of our area and neighborhoods.

  3. Fozzie says:

    For someone who constantly blogs about city neighborhoods and economic vitality, I’m surprised you support this measure that would raise the sales tax rate in some areas of the city to nearly 11%. It’s enough to make me get into my car (the horror!) and drive to suburbia to save 2-3% on major purchases. (the horror, the horror)

  4. GMichaud says:

    Actually it would probably be more effective to institute a tax free approach to city and urban design.The Arch “improvements” are really the failure of the original city planning schemes.Instead of taxes, what actions (zoning or other creations) can be undertaken to avoid raising taxes and begin a real discussion on what the city should look like. This included the disposition of mass transit.

    Sure the Arch is a tourist attraction, but a great transit system to help the tourist (or native) get around the rest of the city (and region) is a necessity to support that visit to the Arch.

    What is the role of transit in supporting the Arch and the rest of the city? The solution we are taxing ourselves for does not answer that question.

    The first step in my opinion is conceptualize an optimum transit system, much can be accomplished with a redesign of the current system with current economic factors with the coordination of physical planning. This can be done with no new taxes. There is a reason the Arch does not feel connected to the rest of the city. Broader walkways are not the real answer but yet another bandaid.

    Instead we have an urban sprawl push going on in St Charles County as we speak. Two new Missouri River bridges (64 and 70) are being built and rebuilt. Hwy 370 is being extended to Highway N thereby further opening up New Melle and Wentzville farmland to development and mid rivers mall is getting a shinning new interchange. Millions and billions are being spent by the government in the support of urban sprawl.

    The Arch project, with no doubt some worthy features, completely ignores the underlying problems that have made a special project and tax necessary in the first place.

    We continue to build a fragmented, disconnected city and region.


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