There are initiative petition signature gathers out at events and stores working on a new petition relating to a bond issue to raise funds to address the problem of vacant buildings. The good news is that this has nothing to do with Billionaire Rex Sinquefield. The bad news is…
It’s a tax hike that doesn’t say tax hike. It’s a ballot issue set for low turnout April election. It’s a revenue-related ballot issue that, while it will have a hearing at the Board of Aldermen, our aldermen cannot revise it even if there are flaws, like not saying the words “tax increase.”
How can there be a property tax increase without the words “tax increase” or similar on the ballot? It’s in the initiative petition by reference. I know that Article VI, Section 26, Missouri Constitution, when mentioned in a ballot issue, means tax increase per Section 26(f), most voters do not.
There was a meeting back in August on this ballot issue supported by BOA President Lewis Reed but the thread posted on Nextdoor (subscription required) was shut down shortly after questions were raised. Perhaps if the discussion had continued, the petition could have been improved before being circulated for signatures.
A solution to vacant buildings is, obviously, a good thing. But it seems to me these matters really should be hashed out by our elected representatives before going to the voters and changes made to improve the ordinance. BOA President Reed could have sponsored this proposal as a board bill but chose not to.
Subsequently, voters will be bombarded with not only candidate and ward poll workers handing out literature on November 8th, but there will also be at least two initiative petitions being worked for signature gathering on election day. More later on the other initiative petition I am aware of.
The ballot issue committee- Neighbors for a Stable St. Louis- filed its first campaign finance report in October. Among the contributions received: $2,000 from Stephen Smith (mega-developer and future Hall of Fame Corporate Welfare Recipient Lawrence Group) and $2,000 from Kenneth Kranzburg (container manufacturer TricorBraun); $100 from former Mayor, former School Board Member Vincent Schoemehl.
In expenditures, a total of $2,500 had gone to Vibrant Communities Consulting (Sean Thomas, former Executive Director for Old North St. Louis Restoration Group).
I have no information on whether any of the people collecting signatures on this petition are paid to do so.
I have not yet really reviewed the petition language for the actual program it seeks to fund.
I would like to see the Board of Aldermen send voters a charter amendment to remove city bond and tax issues from the local initiative petition process. This would also stop Rex Sinquefield’s consultants from spending his money on new, local anti-earnings tax initiatives. Because of Rex Sinquefield, we are already required to reauthorize it every four years.
I would also like to see the Board of Aldermen send voters a charter amendment to require disclosure in voter-friendly language that a ballot issue is a tax increase.