Know your ballot: St. Louis city edition
Next Tuesday, April 4, the city of St. Louis will hold its election for mayor, comptroller and 14 out of 29 board of aldermen seats. Since it seems like Democratic primary winner Lyda Krewson will clinch the mayoral position—and several incumbents or unopposed candidates will fill the aldermen spots—the spotlight shifts to the ballot measures.
Proposition A: Abolish the Office of the Recorder of Deeds
This Proposition would change the city charter by ending the Office of the Recorder of Deeds and add its funds to the preexisting Assessor’s Office. The extra money from this consolidation would go to a fund designated for buying body cameras for police officers in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Those for the proposition argue that the recorder of deeds position—and the department itself—is antiquated and has responsibilities that can be given to the assessor anyway, not to mention the body cameras and their impact on crime. Those against the proposition—namely, the current recorder of deeds herself—argue that the funds can’t be easily consolidated into another department and the office is not as antiquated as proponents would like it to seem.
Proposition B: Change municipal elections
This proposition elects to move municipal elections to match the months of state and national elections, from March and April to August and November. Those for this proposition argue that it would increase voter turnout rates and save money, while those against it think it will push local issues too far down-ballot to warrant consideration, in addition to cluttering the ballot overall.
Proposition C:Preference to city residents for city civils service jobs
Proponents of this bill argue that those who want to serve the city they live in through a civil service position deserve “extra credit” according to a point-system evaluation. While those against it argue it discredits outside applicants, it does not take them out of the running; it only gives a slight advantage to residents.
Proposition 1: Stadium-building tax
Proposition 1 is the first domino in a large string of actions that must take place before construction of the proposed St. Louis soccer stadium begins. This proposition elects to add a 0.5 percent sales tax in the city of St. Louis. The proposition officially lists the purpose as going toward “North/South MetroLink, neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, public safety and to upgrade the city’s infrastructure,” but the main focus lies on its impact on the stadium. Those arguing against the proposition think the aforementioned projects should be worked on, but not through the addition of a sales tax as the load would fall on an already burdened group: the poor and middle-class families that use the MetroLink.
Proposition 2: Usage of Proposition 1 tax increase
As it tends to usually go, most of these issues are interrelated. If Proposition 1 does not pass, Proposition 2 can’t go into effect, even if it passes. Proposition 2 outlines a plan for the use tax, a tax on physical goods taken from the sales tax paid by local business on out-of-state purchases to pay for part of the construction of the proposed soccer stadium. The especially important fact here is that the tax will be paid by businesses—not individuals. Additionally, the increased use tax is automatically triggered by the increased sales tax if it passes, so this proposition merely chooses where those funds will be relegated to. While the stadium itself remains a hotly contested topic, those voting “yes” have argued that it will be used for more than soccer, as it can host other (amateur) sports, concerts and community events like job fairs or cultural shows. Those against it have argued it should be used for other city services.
Proposition NS: Fund to stabilize abandoned structures
This proposition would allow for the establishment of a vacant property stabilization fund, with a $40 million cap. While it would be built up through a series of bond issues—in addition to a property tax—which are generally believed to be secure, those against the bill remain wary of the Land Reutilization Authority, which is notoriously slow-moving. While not a perfect solution, those in favor of the proposition believe it is a first step to improving the backlog of abandoned houses and structures in St. Louis.