Failure of Fragmentation: Sales Tax Hike for SLMPD

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On Friday the St. Louis Board of Alderman gave first passage 20-4 to a bill to place a 0.5% sales tax increase on the November ballot. It would raise about $23M in revenue and is meant to stem compensation competition from St. Louis County and its 50+ police departments since the passage of the same tax in April. If passed, the sales tax at a restaurant in the Delmar Loop would be 13.3%.

Once again we see how fragmentation and spread-out auto-oriented development patterns are leading to insolvency, adding pressure to raise taxes at every opportunity. What happens when we run out of taxes to raise? What happens when the additional pension burden comes home to roost? What happens when the sales tax house of cards collapses in the next recession?

Our broken system keeps looking inside the box and taking out the same old prescriptions. Maybe this time it will work. I’m doubtful. We should say no to tax increases and demand consolidation to free some of the $100Ms thrown away each year on fragmentation.

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  • brickhugger

    Does the city still require residency for police and fire for the first 7 years? If so, wouldn’t be a less expensive proposition to simply remove the residency requirement?

  • Jakeb

    The addiction to sales taxes has to end. It’s getting crazy. Essential services like police and fire should be funded through property taxes and the earnings tax. I don’t understand the reluctance to raise this money thru a property tax increase. And yes, I’m a property owner.

    What am I missing? Is there something that makes raising the property tax impossible?

    • Justin

      I suppose it all comes to whatever is the path of least resistance. A sales tax while one the least reliable ways to raise revenue is unlikely to result in politic backlash because a portion of it is paid by non-residents.

      I think city leaders fear the political backlash that might occur with an increase on property taxes. Despite the fact that property taxes are the most reliable way for the city to raise revenue.

      • rgbose

        Actually the earnings tax is more stable than property taxes.

    • jhoff1257

      It won’t end until this region’s severe fragmentation comes to an end. So you might want to strap in…

    • rgbose

      I think the property tax is as high as the state allows. It’s certainly the case with the earnings tax. They’ll keep proposing sales taxes increases until we stop voting for them. Look for the Zoo sales tax soon.

      • Jakeb

        I suspect the cap is a big reason (along with political expediency). No room to raise property taxes except by reassessment.