Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

5 Communities Seeking Access to Pool of Taxes Revenue Would Go for Street Repairs, Other Improvements

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

5 Communities Seeking Access to Pool of Taxes Revenue Would Go for Street Repairs, Other Improvements

Article excerpt

Officials in five municipalities in St. Louis County want to cash in on a tax that they say their residents are paying.

They are asking voters on Aug. 8 to approve a capital-improvement sales tax of one-half of 1 percent. The municipalities are Bel-Nor, Bel-Ridge, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Glendale and Pine Lawn. Money from the tax would be used for such projects as street repairs. The current total sales tax rate in the five municipalities is 5.975 percent.

Twenty cities in St. Louis County already levy the tax, including St. Ann, home of Northwest Plaza; Richmond Heights, the location of the Galleria; and Des Peres, which includes West County Center. Jennings levies a capital-improvement sales tax of one-fourth of 1 percent.

"Our residents are paying the tax by shopping outside the city," said Bellefontaine Neighbors Mayor Mary Rudloff. "We want to get some of that money back."

Under a new state law, municipalities levying the tax can keep 85 percent of the revenue, with the remaining money going into a pool; or municipalities can join the pool and divide the money by population. The unincorporated area would not be part of the pool, as it is with the local sales tax.

Most officials say their municipalities are likely to be part of the pool.

They say they do not know how much money their municipalities would receive. Their shares would depend on the number of municipalities levying the tax and the number that join the pool.

At a meeting in Bellefontaine Neighbors last week, most of the 150 people there supported the tax. City Attorney Kevin O'Keefe estimated that the money Bellefontaine Neighbors would receive would be at least twice what residents would pay.

Rudloff and the Board of Aldermen pledged to lower the utility tax if Bellefontaine Neighbors received enough money from the pool to offset the loss. The 7 percent utility tax has irked many residents, particularly the elderly, who say the rate is too high.

Street improvements top the list of uses for the sales-tax money. …

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