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Our local government taxing authority comes from State law. There are all kinds of taxes that cities, counties, and special districts may ask the voters to adopt. In the case of Proposition P (Board Bill 60), the public safety sales tax increase on the November 7th Special Election ballot, the enabling law is Section 67.547 RSMo.
It’s a county sales tax, not a city sales tax. It’s the same section of State law that St. Louis County used to pass its Proposition P (Ordinance 25678) last April.
In the event that the City of St. Louis passes Proposition P and later is annexed into St. Louis County as a municipality, the City would no longer collect the sales tax for itself. Instead, St. Louis County would collect the tax from us and give some of it back to the City. Distribution of taxes has long been a contentious issue in the County.
Having less funds from the tax, the City would need to raise taxes to make up for the loss or reduce services commensurate with the loss.
The other possibility is that the City is annexed, likely unwillingly, as an unincorporated area or areas served by St. Louis County Police Department and one or more fire districts, as the County does not operate a fire department. Under that scenario, certainly a big pot of money, say from privatizing Lambert Airport, would come in handy to pay outstanding commitments from the former city as a city-county, such as pensions for its former police, firefighter, municipal and county office workforce.
It seems odd that in all the talk and posturing on the City being annexed into the County, usually referred to as a merger or consolidation, that there has been no conversation about taxes and fees. Which taxes and fees currently collected by the City are city revenue and which are county revenue? How much revenue loss would there be for the City? How do we continue to pay for services?
–Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman
Register here for 2 pm Sunday, August 6th Anti Sales Tax Hour at Nadine’s hosted by 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman Marie Ceselski.
Because someone forgot, it’s all about them.
“We are not signing off on an agreement that doesn’t include significant raises and full funding of Sergeants overtime. If the Mayor’s office thinks that we are going to support a sales tax on the ballot without an enforceable agreement on competitive wages, she’s simply lost touch with reality. We’re not going to spend our political capital to pass another sales tax where—at best—only about 1/3 of the money will be for police raises….without any guarantee. We will not mislead voters that this is pro-police measure. To accept the terms currently offered by the Mayor would be a slap in the face to every member and would be nothing more than a lie to the voters we are sworn to protect and serve. We will stand firm. Remember, every member will have the opportunity to vote on any deal we reach with the City before any contract becomes final.”
“We are also planning rallies and an aggressive media campaign to drive our message home. Stay tuned for more on that.”
“This fight is far from over and we need everyone’s participation. This is no time to be complacent.”
“We need to show the Mayor and other elected officials that they woke a sleeping giant.”
-St. Louis Police Officers Association Executive Board
Of all the ballot issues ever sent to Missouri voters, Amendment 4 stands out as the one that could have the most dramatic impact on funding of local and state services, more so even than the 1980 Hancock Amendment which requires public votes on every tax increase.
Constitutional Amendment 4 Full Text
“Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to prohibit a new state or local sales/use or other similar tax on any service or transaction that was not subject to a sales/use or similar tax as of January 1, 2015?”
Amendment 4 is opposed by the Missouri Municipal League
St. Louis Public Radio article on Amendment 4
Amendment 4 is funded primarily by the Realtors Association and is a preemptive strike against sales taxes on new service and technology economies in a Rex Sinquefield world where earnings and income taxes are banned. The wording of the ballot issue is very troubling. It could end up banning all new sales taxes and not just on services. Increasing property taxes to pay for everything would be incredibly unfair.
Vote No on Amendment 4. Don’t let voters in Jasper County tell voters of St. Louis City what we and can’t tax.
— Marie Ceselski, 7th Ward Democratic Committeewoman
What’s billionaire free market crusader Rex Sinquefield buying these days? Better Together, his faux civic organization, has purchased a front row seat to Post-Ferguson Decision plotting and scheming on courts and police.
Sinquefield has enough money to make thousands of no interest loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs without it hurting him if they all go belly up.
Sinquefield has enough money to set up a fund to hire thousands of local youth to shovel snow and rake leaves for old people, pick up trash, plant flower bulbs along highways, and run recreation and arts activities for kids and senior citizens.
Sinquefield has a whole lot of money that could be doing a whole lot of good these days, making a positive difference in the lives of thousands.
True. He and his wife have a charitable foundation to fund their favorite art and cultural institutions and nonprofits, including scholarships for parochial school students.
But nearest and dearest to Sinquefield is his political Agenda– fighting the great evils of our time as he sees them: income taxes, public education, unions, and campaign finance reform. He is Missouri’s Koch Brothers. For Sinquefield, Ferguson is a means to an end, the end of St. Louis City’s earnings tax.
Sinquefield dropped over $11 Million on a 2010 constitutional amendment to require St. Louis and Kansas City to perpetually reauthorize their earnings taxes with a public vote. Statewide voters approved the amendment. Later, local voters approved retaining the taxes. The alternatives were raising sales taxes or property taxes to replace the loss of revenue, neither viable. Until Ferguson.
And it’s a police chiefs think tank that’s been hired to do the study. Naturally. Because when you have a crisis of confidence regarding police, the best course of action is hire police to come up with a plan to reform policing.
The earnings tax is 32% of St. Louis City’s General Revenue Fund. The City Police Department’s budget is roughly $10-15 Million more than what the earnings tax brings in. Create a regional police department funded by a sales tax and you get rid of the City’s earnings tax.
The region served will not, of course, be the St. Louis Region. It will be the City of St. Louis and poorer communities, small and large, in St. Louis County.
Tony Ladue, with 8,560 people, will get to keep its police because 36% of Ladue’s Budget comes from property taxes. Less affluent Ferguson, with 21,111 people will, of course, have to join the regional department.
High income Frontenac, population 3,484, will continue with its own force but Pagedale, population 3,304, with 30% below the poverty line, will have to join the regional department. There is but 180 citizens difference in population but they are many millions apart in income.
It’s not about the size of the municipality. It’s about revenue to run the department.
There are speed trap funded police departments all over this state, including towns half the size of the St. Louis City’s LaSalle Park Neighborhood. In the Ozarks, poor Hispanics or poor Whites get the shakedown. In other places, it mostly impacts tourists. But Rex Sinquefield doesn’t care about them. They don’t have an earnings tax he’s passionate about eliminating.
Ferguson is not a small city in Missouri. Ferguson is Missouri’s 35th largest city of over 900 cities and towns. Ferguson is larger than half of Missouri’s 115 counties. It’s home to Emerson Electric. A regional earnings tax with a split between place of work and place of residence would allow Ferguson to afford its own police force without speed traps, if it so desired.
Indianapolis has a regional police force funded by an income tax. But there can be no regional earnings tax to fund either independent police departments or a regional police department here. Thank Sinquefield for that. The constitutional amendment he sponsored prohibits any political subdivision from ever establishing another earnings tax in Missouri.
We’ll be told by a
police chiefs group “Experts” that a regional department is what is best for us. Then we’ll be told by Sinquefield’s PR Machine “Experts” that the best way to fund it is a sales tax. Thought Leaders will rush to support it and few in Media will question it because, you know, “Experts” were involved and there’s an official looking report.
In order for Sinquefield to get rid of the City’s earnings tax via this regional sales tax for a St. Louis City + Poor Communities Police Department, the Missouri General Assembly will need to pass some enabling legislation creating a new political subdivision, a funding district.
This new funding district will have a pricey Chief Executive Something and a weak oversight board or commission appointed by Mayor of St. Louis and St. Louis County Executive, or Governor, or, well, it really does not matter. There will be zero accountability to the people served. Sure. Some kind of weak civilian review board will also be included. But the more layers insulating elected officials, the less accountability there is. If you want accountability, you do not look to Metropolitan Sewer District or Bi-State Development Agency (dba Metro) as role models.
Sinquefield will drop blimp loads of money on the ballot campaign, which will be conveniently held in a low turnout election. We’ll be told the proposal will restore peace. The high voter registration and turnout wards in South City will vote for it. And it will pass.
But there can be no real peace without justice. And only in Missouri would someone have the audacity to suggest we can have justice with an unaccountable regional police force suggested by a police chiefs association to be funded with a regressive sales tax.