Failure of Fragmentation: Aug 7 Tax Hikes On St. Louis County Ballot

Another election is coming up, and that means more tax increases on the ballot to prop up fragmentation in St. Louis County. The April 2016, August 2016, November 2016, April 2017, Aug 2017, and April 2108 ballots included several tax increases and bond issues. The next ballot looks much the same.

{Fragmented – EW Gateway}

{Spreading out – EW Gateway}

Fragmentation and low-productivity auto-oriented development patterns are synergizing in the St. Louis region, driving up the per capita cost of government services, transportation, infrastructure, and utilities. Despite $100Ms in opportunity costs and a soft tax base under our current approach, municipal leaders are thinking inside the box to keep their budgets balanced. On the bright side, hopefully a trend, there are fewer tax increases than usual, and there is one disincorporation on the ballot! Voters in Hanley Hills, pop 2,115, have the opportunity to embrace collaboration by default. Let’s hope they summon the courage to let it go.

  • Pine Lawn (Pop. 3,592)- A 0.5% sales tax for economic development. Voters passed 84-60 (yes, in a city of 3,592) a 0.25% sales tax last November
  • Kinloch Fire Protection District – $3M bond issue for buildings, vehicles, and equipment.
  • Kinloch Fire Protection District – New commercial property tax of $2.70 per $100 assessed, residential property tax of $1 per $100 assessed, and raise the personal property tax from $0.87 to $1 per $100 assessed.

Recent news on the Kinloch Fire Protection District-

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?

August 7, 2018 St. Louis County Sample Ballot