Failure of Fragmentation: April 5 Tax Hikes On the Ballot

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big taxes

On the April 5 ballot in St. Louis County will be another round of tax increases. Fragmentation and low-productivity auto-oriented development patterns are synergizing in the St. Louis area, driving up the per capita cost of government, services, infrastructure, and utilities. Despite $100Ms in opportunity costs under our current approach, municipal leaders are thinking inside the box to keep their budgets balanced. There are no mergers or disincorporations on the ballot.

  • Bel-Ridge- 1.5% utility tax
  • Berkeley- property tax increase of 0.22 per $100 assessed value for police and fire pensions
  • Dellwood- $7M in bonds for infrastructure and facilities maintenance and improvement
  • Ferguson- 0.5% optional economic development sales tax. This is the last of the optional sales taxes that Ferguson can levy
  • Ferguson- property tax increase of 0.40 per $100 of assessed value. If passed the city would have the 2nd highest among the 90 munis in St. Louis County.
  • Florissant- raise Residential Rental License fee to $50. $200 fee for property vacant for 6 months
  • Jennings- property tax increase of 0.125 per $100 assessed value for police and fire pensions
  • Rock Hill- $6.1M bond issue for a new municipal center to be paid with property taxes. Rock Hill has about the same number of residents as the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood in St. Louis City. SD doesn’t need to build a municipal center.

We’ve set up a scheme resembling Enron-style accounting where debt and liabilities are hidden in subsidiaries (municipalities). Those liabilities are piling up, and we pretend they will be confined to those municipalities forever. Do we let the system unravel on its own where munis hold on until the bitter end and dump those liabilities onto the county or do we come together before the bill gets even worse?

St. Louis County Ballot

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  • Steve Dixon

    All of these little fiefdoms need to be dissolved. It’s a new century. Not the dark ages. Why does an area of 1000 people need its own police and mayor and judges. They don’t. They are there simply to generate revenue.

    • rgbose

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  • TIm E

    More death by a thousand cuts. The Rock Hill vote raises my eyebrows because you would think that their would enough residents who ask themselves. Why shouldn’t we be part of Webster Groves instead of spending $6.1 million on this? Why shouldn’t we combine with Brentwood or Warson Woods and spreading the costs of this? etc. A while back I voted in favor of Shrewsbury bond measure to upgrade swimming pool but that was considerable less & benefitted the immediate neighborhood then what you see with a $6.1 million bond on a small community

    • Eric

      Good luck getting Webster to accept Rock Hill (I grew up in RH). It’s barely acknowledged as part of the WG school district. Should they merge? Yes, so that WG can shed that insanely expensive bedroom community mentality, and set up a more balanced revenue stream, taking advantage of its newfound jurisdiction over sections of Manchester and McKnight, and cultivating a healthy sales tax base, to offset its over-dependence on real estate taxes.

  • Justin Idleburg

    They all need to sit down,and just disband.They are doing a diservice to their citizens.