April 4th Proposition Voter Guide
Recommendations from 15th Ward Alderwoman, Megan Ellyia Green
The King Rex Propositions: A & B
There are two propositions on the April 4th ballot sponsored by Rex Sinquefield. Rex has poured over $50,000 into each of these campaigns, which must pass with a 2/3rds vote of the people in order to amend the City’s charter. While each may look good on the surface, the devil is in the details.
Proposition A — Vote NO
Fuzzy Math. Proposition A advocates for abolishing the Recorder of Deeds office, rolling its functions into the assessors office, and utilizing the “savings” to fund body cameras for the St. Louis City Police Department. This sounds good on the surface, however, the “savings” that this measure purports, does not equate to reality. These functions must be provided by someone in St. Louis City government. Given that $2.5 million of the $2.8 million budget of the Recorder of Deeds budget are salaries, there is essential $300,000 in potential savings from assigning it’s functions to another office. Additionally, the city estimates that it will cost $1.5 — $2 million to purchase the cameras and $1–1.4 million per year to maintain and provide storage for the footage. Thus, closing the Recorder’s Office would not produce the savings needed to operate a a body camera program. Simply put, this isn’t about body cameras, it’s just another Rex ploy to shrink City government.
For other reasons to vote No on Prop A including that:
- Under state law every County must have a Recorder of Deeds
- There are no adequate policies in place for such a program
- The Board of Aldermen would be under no requirement to allocate savings toward a body camera program
Please check out the Vote No On A campaign site.
I urge you to vote NO on Proposition A.
Proposition B — Vote NO
A Master Plan to Abolish the Earnings Tax. On the surface, Proposition B supports a lot of things that I believe in. I have long been an advocate for changing the municipal election cycle to coincide with the general election cycle as it can be a way to increase voter turnout in municipal elections. However, as 7th Ward Committeewoman Marie Ceselski points out in her thorough assessment, this is yet another rouse by Rex to rid the City of the earnings tax and push his anti-public school agenda.
Even if the municipal elections were moved, under state law, the school board elections, community college elections, and earnings tax vote would still take place on the April ballot. Changing this would take an act of the Missouri General Assembly. Without city wide and aldermanic elections to drive turnout, it is anticipated that turnout on this April ballot would fall even lower than the average 11% turnout that we currently see. In turn, this would make it even more likely that a well financed campaign to rid the City of the earnings tax or buy seats on the school board would have success.
I urge you to vote NO on Proposition B.
Proposition C — Vote YES
Providing Incentive to Live in the City. This is a simple and straightforward amendment to the City charter to give City residents 5 bonus points on the Civil Service Exam when they are applying to work in the City of St. Louis. As a City that continues to lose population, anything that we can do to incentivize people to live in the City is needed.
I urge you to vote YES on Proposition C.
Proposition 1 — Vote YES
Implementation of an Eco-development Sales Tax. Although I am generally opposed to regressive sales taxes, unfortunately the Missouri Generally Assembly has capped our ability at the local level to raise property taxes. This leaves us with few options for raising additional revenue. It is for this reason that I am supporting Proposition 1.
Proposition 1 is asking the voters to approve a 1/2 cent sales tax for economic development to fund a study and first phase of north/south metro link expansion (from NGA to Cherokee Street), as well as neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, public safety, and infrastructure. Numerous studies point to the transformative nature of mass transit and transit-oriented development. Implementing this tax would then allow us to leverage additional federal funding to phase in the completion of a total of 31 miles of rail line over the next couple of decades.
While investments in Metrolink would not be shovel ready for 5–10 years, this sales tax would also fund more immediate needs, such as trash trucks. With the City projecting a $20 million budget shortfall in this next year this tax, which cannot be used for salaries nor fill existing budget gaps, will assist in paying for outdated infrastructure improvements that the City cannot afford to put off any longer while creating new neighborhood revitalization and workforce development programs for the City.
While opponents are stating that there are not the safeguards in place to ensure that thee funds are spent on their intended uses, I disagree. As seen below, the bill specifically lays out the uses that this tax shall be used for. As with any tax money, expenditures mut be approved by the Board of Aldermen and signed by the Mayor. Thus all expenditures are subject to public hearings and Aldermen would not be wise to go against the will of the voters.
Not only will each funding allocation have to go through the Board of Aldermen for approval, and be signed by the Mayor, this tax also sets up an additional level of accountability. The ordinance establishes an Economic Development Oversight Board to provide an extra layor of accountability for the allocation of the funds.
I urge you to vote YES on Prop 1.
Proposition 2 — Vote NO
Deferring Use Tax Money Toward a Soccer Stadium. Under state law, each time that a sales tax is increased the use tax automatically increases by the same amount. A use tax is not a tax paid by individuals. Rather, it is a tax on on tangible goods purchased by businesses from outside the state of Missouri. Thus, if Proposition 1 passes, a 1/2 cent use tax will also be levied. It is estimated that this increase in the use tax will generate $4 million annually for the City.
When voters first voted to authorize a use tax, under law such funds are to be allocated to public housing, public housing, and public safety. Under Proposition 2, voters are being asked to instead redirect this use tax money from its intended use toward the construction of a soccer stadium.
As I laid out previously when debating the Rams stadium deal, research nearly uniformly finds that sports stadiums do not produce good economic returns for cities. The same is true for soccer stadiums.
As a City that has some of the worst health outcomes in the country, has not fully funded its Affordable Housing Trust Fund for many years, and is known nationally for its high crime rates, this increase in the use tax must be allocated toward its originally intended uses.
I urge you to vote NO on Proposition 2.
Proposition NS — Vote YES
Stabilizing Vacant Buildings. Proposition NS is a $40-million bond issue to stabilize vacant, city-owned residential properties and make them rehab-ready. Currently, the city looses $7,703,407.46 in property tax revenues from our vacant properties annually. Additionally, it costs the Forestry Department $5,230,141.00 to maintain our vacant properties and the Building Department $1,905,893.15 to service these properties. St. Louis Public Schools lose right at $4,000,000.00 because of our vacancy issue. Every year these numbers grow. Proposition NS is a way to stabilize these buildings so that we can get them into the hands of homeowners and back onto the tax rolls.
This initiative was drafted by St. Louis citizens who volunteered their time to get this on the ballot so that we have the funds we need to address our vacancy issue.
I urge you to vote YES on prop NS.
Megan Ellyia Green
15th Ward Alderwoman