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Poll: Would You Support A 3/16¢ Parks/Arch Sales Tax Increase

ABOVE: The final piece of the Gateway Arch was set into place on Thursday October 28, 1965

In November voters in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County may be asked to approve a 3/16¢ sales tax increase:

An obscure bill moving through the Legislature includes a provision that would allow residents to vote — possibly in November — on raising sales taxes in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County by three-sixteenths of a cent (0.1875) for the Arch project and other area parks. (STLtoday.com)

The CityArchRiver group and Civic Progress say the sales tax revenue is needed to pay off bonds to complete planned improvements to better connect the Arch to the city. Much of the money would fund parks in each taxing jurisdiction:

Susan Trautman with the Greenway District says only 30 percent of the tax would go to the Archgrounds. The rest would go towards improving local and regional parks and trails.


The tax increase would only last 20 years and collect enough money to pay for a $120 million bond issue to help pay for the project. (KMOV)

Voters in Illinois may also be asked to support a small tax increase as well. This is the subject for the poll this week — the poll is located in the right sidebar.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Split on Back to School Sales Tax Holiday

August 3, 2011 Politics/Policy, Taxes Comments Off on Readers Split on Back to School Sales Tax Holiday

Last week readers were split on Missouri’s Back to School Sales Tax Holiday that runs this weekend:

Q: Thoughts on the Missouri back to school sales tax holiday?

  1. Great, helps low-income families afford needed supplies 28 34.57%
  2. Bad, just reduces much needed income for various governments. 21 25.93%
  3. Meh, doesn’t hurt or help anyone. 19 23.46%
  4. unsure/no opinion 8 9.88%
  5. Other answer…5 6.17%

The five other answers were:

  1. Eliminate taxes year-round. Imagine what that would do for the economy.
  2. Would be better if municipal taxes were also waived!
  3. Just a gimmick to stimulate spending.
  4. reduce govt tax take
  5. why is the tax holiday “selective”? It should cover everything.

Will you be taking advantage of this holiday?

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Missouri Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday a Good Idea?

Missouri’s Back-t0-School Sales Tax Holiday is August 5-7:

During this time, Missourians won’t have to pay the state’s 4.225 percent sales tax on certain purchases made in the state. Alana Barragán-Scott, director of the Missouri Department of Revenue, said the tax break will help those making big purchases the most. (Source)

Our state government even produced a lame video to promote the event:


From the Missouri Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday page:

Certain back-to-school purchases, such as clothing, school supplies, computers, and other items as defined by the statute, are exempt from sales tax for this time period only.

The sales tax holiday applies to state and local sales taxes when a local jurisdiction chooses to participate in the holiday. However, local jurisdictions can choose to not participate in the holiday if they enact an ordinance to not participate and notify the department 45 days prior to the sales tax holiday. If the jurisdiction had previously enacted an ordinance to not participate in the holiday and later decided to participate, it must enact a new ordinance to participate and notify the department 45 days prior to the sales tax holiday.

If one or all of your local taxing jurisdictions are not participating in the sales tax holiday, the state’s portion of the tax rate (4.225%) will remain exempt for the sale of qualifying sales tax holiday items.

The sales tax exemption is limited to:

  • Clothing – any article having a taxable value of $100 or less
  • School supplies – not to exceed $50 per purchase
  • Computer software – taxable value of $350 or less
  • Personal computers – not to exceed $3,500
  • Computer peripheral devices – not to exceed $3,500

Thankfully the site details how these items are defined:

Section 144.049, RSMo, defines items exempt during the sales tax holiday as:

“Clothing” – any article of wearing apparel, including footwear, intended to be worn on or about the human body. The term shall include but not be limited to cloth and other material used to make school uniforms or other school clothing. Items normally sold in pairs shall not be separated to qualify for the exemption. The term shall not include watches, watchbands, jewelry, handbags, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, scarves, ties, headbands, or belt buckles.

“School supplies” – any item normally used by students in a standard classroom for educational purposes, including but not limited to, textbooks, notebooks, paper, writing instruments, crayons, art supplies, rulers, book bags, backpacks, handheld calculators, chalk, maps, and globes. The term shall not include watches, radios, CD players, headphones, sporting equipment, portable or desktop telephones, copiers or other office equipment, furniture, or fixtures. School supplies shall also include computer software having a taxable value of three hundred fifty dollars or less.

“Personal computers” – a laptop, desktop, or tower computer system which consists of a central processing unit, random access memory, a storage drive, a display monitor, and a keyboard and devices designed for use in conjunction with a personal computer, such as a disk drive, memory module, compact disk drive, daughterboard, digitalizer, microphone, modem, motherboard, mouse, multimedia speaker, printer, scanner, single-user hardware, single-user operating system, soundcard, or video card.

The poll question this week seeks to find out what readers think of this annual event. The poll is located in the upper right corner of the blog.

– Steve Patterson



Readers: Expand the Zoo-Museum District

ABOVE: South entrance to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park

More than half the readers that voted in the poll last week said the five Zoo-Museum Institutions (Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, Science Center, and Botanical Gardens) should not offer discounts as proposed by one member of the ZMD Board:

Q: Should Zoo-Museum Institutions Offer Discounts to City & County Residents?

  1. No, more of the region should fund these institutions so we all pay a lower rate. 41 [32.03%]
  2. No, leave it as is. 30 [23.44%]
  3. Yes they should offer something, but not free parking 19 [14.84%]
  4. Yes they should offer something, especially free parking 16 [12.5%]
  5. Maybe, let each institution how to thank city & county residents 13 [10.16%]
  6. Other answer… 5 [3.91%]
  7. No, reducing the tax rate would be better 2 [1.56%]
  8. Unsure/no opinion 2 [1.56%]

I think expanding the size of the district so more of the region shares in the costs is a good idea. Of course those of us already paying wouldn’t see a rate reduction, does that ever happen? Still I could see counties such as Jefferson and St. Charles paying something, just not the same as St. Louis City & County. But the more of the region paying in then there will be those who think some or all of the institutions should leave the city.  I suppose there are already institutions in the region that could be added?

Here are the other answers that were provided:

  1. erect big signs thanking STL/CO citizen funding to make freeloaders feel guilty
  2. Yes. City/County residents should get basic member discounts.
  3. County residents should get a discount; they subsidize City residents.
  4. Perhaps free parking for out-of-state cars to encourage local usage of other tra
  5. expand the district

I thought #3 was interesting.  The city has about 25% of the combined population of the city & county and it only contributes 15% of the tax revenue, so one could twist that into the county subsidizing the city. Of course the city foots the bill for police & fire services to these institutions.

– Steve Patterson




Poll: Should Zoo-Museum Institutions Offer Discounts to City & County Residents?

Interesting story in the paper last week:

Property owners in St. Louis and St. Louis County paid more than $70 million last year for the region’s premier arts and culture attractions. But when it comes time to visit institutions funded through the zoo-museum tax district, they’re often treated the same as people who didn’t pay a dime.

Now, a member of the public board that supervises the 40-year-old tax district is asking whether that’s fair.

Gloria Wessels recently suggested that four of the five institutions funded by the zoo-museum district offer discounts on parking, concessions and special exhibits to visitors who live in the taxing district. If necessary, those discounts could be funded through price increases for visitors who live outside the district, she said. (STLToday)

Gloria Wessels is the wife of long 26-year alderman Fred Wessels (D-13). Should those of us who pay taxes to fund these attractions get a little something others don’t? The Missouri Botanical Garden already allows city & county resident in for free on Wednesday & Saturday mornings.  The article points out the logistical nightmare of trying to verify who would qualify for free parking.  Besides the last thing we need is to encourage is more cars trying to get to the zoo & museum.

During its thirty-seven years of operation the District’s annual tax revenue has increased from $3.9 million dollars in 1972 to more than $72 million dollars in 2009. In recent years, approximately 85% of the tax revenues come from the County taxpayers while City residents provide 15% of the District’s tax revenues.

The expansion of the number of Subdistricts from three to five is indicative of the success and vitality of the original concept of a tax supported cultural district. Today, the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District is, perhaps, the largest tax supported cultural district in this country. It is a model that other cities have often attempted to emulate. (mzdstl.org)

The five subdistricts are the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoological Park, Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Science Center and Missouri History Museum.

The poll this week asks you to weigh in on this issue. The poll is in the upper right of the blog.

– Steve Patterson