Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Annexation Rout Makes Casualty of Property Tax

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Annexation Rout Makes Casualty of Property Tax

Article excerpt

Residents of Bella Villa will see the end of the municipality's property tax as about the only tangible result of the effort to annex much of Lemay.

Voters in the area targeted for annexation by Bella Villa rejected the proposal 810-42. The election drew strong interest among voters - 48 percent of the eligible voters in the annexation area went to the polls as did 45 percent of eligible voters in Bella Villa.

Bella Villa had announced it would eliminate the municipal property tax. That enabled city officials to promise property owners outside the city that their taxes wouldn't increase if they approved annexation.

Bella Villa residents approved replacement of the property tax with a utility tax when voters on Tuesday approved the plan 116 to 75. It will increase the tax on utility bills to 5 percent from 3 percent to make it the same as in unincorporated areas of the county.

Mayor Barbara Savalick said the rearranged taxes would make about a dime-a-year difference in taxes paid by residents.

Only 7 percent of the voters countywide went to the polls on Tuesday. The county election board had totals from absentee ballots and from its midday collection of ballots just minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m.

The early results showed 93 percent opposition to annexation from the unincorporated area. Bella Villa voters passed the annexation proposal 141-54, but it needed majorities from both areas to pass. At 8 p.m., when the aldermen began their meeting, the mood was somber.

"We'll regroup and explore the situation later," Savalick said. She said she and the aldermen were tired after a hard campaign and wanted to rest.

"The most important thing is that this got people involved, even to be against the effort, and now we hope they follow through and make an effort to improve Lemay," she said at the meeting.

While muncipal officials were glum, the opposition camp was joyous. At the Knights of Columbus Hall in Lemay, Jim Bafaro, head of the campaign against the annexation, read the final results to more than 70 cheering supporters.

"We're extremely proud of our effort, and now we can relax for a few months," he said. …

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