Police, public safety tax increases on ballots across the region in April 4 election

Mar 17, 2017
Originally published on March 20, 2017 10:14 am

Voters in St. Louis County, various municipalities, and in St. Clair County in Illinois are being asked to open up their wallets during the April 4 election. Up for approval: a series of tax increases to boost spending on public safety.

There’s general agreement that the police and fire departments need the extra money, but requests by both specific municipalities and St. Louis County could confuse voters. Here’s a look at each ballot measure:


PROPOSITION P

Who votes? St. Louis County residents

Which tax? Sales

How much? A half-cent, bringing the base sales tax rate to 7.613 percent.

What will it fund? Of the $80 million the tax is expected to generate a year, St. Louis County police will keep $46 million to pay for more officers, increase officer pay and purchase equipment, such as body and dashboard cameras. The remaining $34 million will be distributed to the municipalities based on population.

PROPOSITION C

Who votes? Crestwood residents

Which tax? Property

By how much? 45 cents, bringing the rate to about 70 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. (The city’s website says that’s still among the lowest in south St. Louis County, with average homeowners paying an additional $180 a year).

What will it fund? Though the police and fire departments are specifically mentioned in the ballot language, Proposition C is meant to bolster the city’s general fund, which has lost millions of dollars since Crestwood Mall closed in 2013. Crestwood is currently running a $525,000 deficit.

PROPOSITION A

Who votes? Moline Acres residents

Which tax? Sales 

By how much? ¼-cent, bringing the city’s rate to 7.863 percent.

What will it fund? General operating expenses, though the ballot language specifically mentions “improved law enforcement and code enforcement services.” City clerk Annette Pendilton says it’s meant to help the city keep ahead of rising expenses. The city has not estimated how much money the increase will generate.

PROPOSITION O

Who votes? Overland residents

Which tax? Property

By how much? The increase varies depending on the class of property. Residential real estate rates will go from 12 cents to 24 cents per $100 of assessed value; commercial real estate and personal property tax rates will rise from 12 cents to 36 cents per $100 of assessed value.

What will it fund? Police pensions

PROPOSITION L

Who votes? St. Ann residents

Which tax? Property 

By how much? Depends on the type of property. Proposition L sets personal, commercial and residential tax rates at $1 per $100 of assessed value. It also repeals a 2012 tax that helped fund senior and recreation services —  funding for some of those services now comes from a bond issue approved in November 2016.

What will it fund? General city services, though policing is specifically mentioned.

PROPOSITION R

Who votes? Webster Groves residents

Which tax? Property

By how much? 8 cents, bringing the real property tax rate for pensions to 20 cents per $100 of assessed value; costing the average homeowner an estimated $41 more a year.

What will it fund? Additional pension benefits for police officers and firefighters, who are not eligible to receive Social Security. Other city employees will also get a boost in their retirement accounts.

PROPOSITION A

Who votes? About 40,000 people in the Affton Fire Protection District, which covers 8.5 square miles on the border with St. Louis.

Which tax? Property

By how much? 25 cents. That would bring the levy for the district to $1.49 per $100 assessed value;  an owner of a $100,00 home would pay an estimated $4 a month more.

What will it fund? The district’s website says it will go to new ambulances, replacing one of three firehouses and for a new fire truck.

PROPOSITION E

Who votes? About 27,000 people in the Fenton Fire Protection District, which covers 19 square miles on St. Louis County’s southern border with Jefferson County. 

Which tax? Property

By how much? It would give the district’s board the authority to set the property tax rate as high as $1.40 per $100 of assessed valuation, though fire Chief Tom Steitz expects the initial rate to be about $1.25 per $100 of assessed value. 

What will it fund? General operations of the district, which has four firehouses and hasn’t raised taxes since 1986. The district has grown since then, Steitz said, and the closure of the Chrysler plant in 2009 wiped out a large source of funds.

PROPOSITION P

Who votes? About 20,000 people in the Metro North Fire Protection District, which serves parts of unincorporated north St. Louis County, Moline Acres, Dellwood and Castle Point

Which tax? Property

By how much? 40 cents per $100 of assessed valuation; officials say average homeowner would pay an extra $32 a year.

What will it fund? More advanced ambulance services. Currently, crews on Metro North ambulances are emergency medical technicians, who are not able to dispense drugs or interpret cardiac monitors. 

In St. Clair County, voters will be asked to approve a 1 percent increase in the sales tax to cover public safety needs. The tax would end after 12 years.

What will it fund? The estimated $22 million it would generate a year would go to:

  • Municipal police and fire services
  • Probation services
  • Jail modernization
  • Courthouse security renovations
  • Sheriff’s deputies
  • Police shooting range
  • Countywide emergency alert system
  • The office of the state’s attorney
  • The implementation of the Metro East Police Commission’s public safety plan
  • The coroner’s office
  • Crime reduction programs
  • Technology integration.

A ¼-cent sales tax increase to expand the St. Clair County jail failed in 2014. Supporters of this year’s proposal hope that broadening the tax's uses, and detailing those uses into the legislation, mean it will pass this time.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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